Player at Jordan's camp reports MJ isn't up to speed
Updated: Saturday August 25, 2001 3:25 PM
CHICAGO, Aug 23 (Reuters) -- Players invited to Michael Jordan's comeback camp were asked to take a vow of silence but one still said there were stretches when his game was "garbage," a Chicago paper reported on Thursday.
"At times, he looked kind of like garbage," the Chicago Sun-Times quoted a player as telling a friend who was allowed inside the Chicago gym. "He was still all right, though."
Jordan, now an executive and part owner of the Washington Wizards, has not played in the NBA since winning his sixth championship in 1998. He has said he will announce whether he feels able to compete again in mid-September.
Under NBA rules, the 38-year-old would have to relinquish his small ownership share before playing again.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Jordan's advisors have outlined to NBA Commissioner David Stern a plan to sell back his ownership share to business partner Ted Leonsis if he decides to return as a player.
This week's camp is Jordan's first scrimmage with top-flight competition after spending at least three weeks running basketball camps in California and Las Vegas, so some rust could be expected on his game.
But Jordan has asked the players not to reveal any details about what went on inside the gym where he has gathered some NBA and collegiate players for his self-tryout camp, the Chicago Sun-Times said.
"Jordan called us all together before we started scrimmaging," the newspaper quoted "another NBA veteran" as saying.
"Then he said, 'I'm happy to get you all here, and I'm grateful that you have come to help me try to see whether I'm ready. But I wish that you wouldn't say anything to anybody, especially to the media.
"Just keep it confidential as to how I'm playing and what we are doing here. This is just between you and me.' And everybody said, 'Cool.'"
The newspaper on Tuesday quoted Jordan as rating himself a "six" on a scale of one to 10. It said he was battling knee tendinitis but the two ribs he cracked earlier in the summer now felt "fine."
Jordan, who played his entire 14-year career with the Chicago Bulls, threw in his lot with the Wizards when he bought five to 10 percent of Leonsis' Lincoln Holdings in a complex deal in January 2000.
Leonsis, Jordan's financial adviser Curtis Polk and lawyers attended the meeting at Stern's office on August 14 to discuss contingency plans should the former superstar decide to play again, the Washington Post quoted sources as saying.
The newspaper said the process of selling the shares was "routine" and similar to Magic Johnson's divestiture when he "unretired" in January 1996.
Johnson reacquired his 5 percent stake in the Los Angeles Lakers from owner Jerry Buss after he "re-retired."
In addition to the Wizards, Jordan's stake includes an ownership share in the NHL's Washington Capitals and in Washington Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of senior Wizards owner Abe Pollin's holdings.
Pollin's sports empire also includes the WNBA's Mystics, MCI Center, US Airways Arena and the Washington-Baltimore franchise of Ticketmaster.
The New York Post reported Wednesday that in the meeting with Stern, a plan to swap Jordan's Wizards ownership stake for increased participation in the Capitals was broached.
But the Washington Post said that in an e-mail Leonsis called the substance of that report "inaccurate."
Leonsis declined to comment further, the newspaper said, and no one else has made any comment on the meeting.
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