Michael Jordan has people who wax his wheels and shine his shoes and buff his brass. He has people who fashion his clothes and tend his toes and powder his nose. He has three guys to watch his back and three his front and one just to let him win at Scrabble. Too bad he doesn't have anybody to tell him when he's being a jerk.
Last June he won his sixth NBA title with a steal and a jumper in the last 41 seconds. Afterward he said he'd think a little and then let everybody know if he was going to retire. That was seven months ago.
Seven months ago! Carmen Electra has been married and annulled 11 times since then! Your new Pentium 4000X PowerLap will be obsolete in less time! The Malaysian red-eared sloth gestates, delivers and expires in less man seven months! Thank God, Jordan's not working the ER.
Nurse: Dr. Jordan! This kid's in big trouble! What should we do?
Jordan: Ummm, well, let me run that by Charles and get back to you.
It's not as if this was Sophie's Choice. It was either a) play the game of your life, hold the pose and retire in eye-aching glory, or b) come back for a sawed-off season full of puffy daddies stumbling around for teams Scotch-taped together at a chaotic two-week yard sale. We'll give you all the time you need. Is 10 seconds enough?
Not that anybody was eager to hear. Just the NBA, NBC, the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, 198 other free agents, Dow Jones, America, the world and Radio Free Neptune.
You say, Wait a minute! Michael was just holding off to bolster the players' position during negotiations to end the lockout!
Some bolstering. The players crumbled like Roquefort.
Not long ago Jordan said he'd announce his decision when the lockout ended. It ended. Jordan was playing golf in the Bahamas. The next day Jordan was still playing golf in the Bahamas. The next day nobody seemed to know where he was. The Bulls said they weren't lifting a hoof until they heard from Jordan. The league froze. A whole line of free agents bumped into the back of one another. For Jordan it must've been some wonderful ego trip: the world waiting for you on one crammed corner, rain dripping off guys' hats as each of them lifted his watch to his ear to see if the damn thing was still ticking. "Scottie's been trying to reach him," Jimmy Sexton, Pippen's agent, said three days after the agreement was reached. "Nobody knows where he is."