Let's run a clear-out for Michael Jordan. Before he scores one more oooh noo, hook up the VCR, mama, he's throwin' it down again basket; before he gulps down one more Big Mac with one more Coke; before he laces up one more Nike and spins one more Wilson basketball while sitting on the fender of one more Chevy while checking the time on one more Guy Laroche watch and saving one more generation from one more chemical dependency; before he wins the Masters, marries Whitney Houston, purchases controlling interest in AT&T, takes over
The Tonight Show
, is elected President of the United States, moves the White House to Chapel Hill, N.C., sprouts two of those incredibly dangling tongues out of his ear-lobes and actually does take off and fly...let's run the old clear-out the way the Chicago Bulls do and just stand around and watch him.
In San Diego, which hasn't had an NBA team since 1984, the San Marcos High School playground overflows within seconds of Jordan's arrival to tape the syndicated TV show
Greatest Sports Legends
. Jordan, who must hide behind an equipment truck to escape the teeming crowd, is the host of the show this season. The guests, the legends, include Al Unser, Don Maynard, Nate Thurmond and George Gervin. Jordan is most familiar with Gervin; two seasons ago Gervin was Jordan's teammate on the Bulls.
As the TV crew wilts beneath the hot sun while taping the guests' dialogue, Jordan addresses a bearded technician as " Kenny Rogers" and a short director as "Pee Wee." Soon Jordan asks Gervin about the right hand Gervin threw long ago in an NCAA tournament game that ended his college career at Eastern Michigan.
"Ice, if you had it to do over, what would you do differently?" Jordan says.
"Throw the left," Gervin says.
Cut. Don't print.
And Jordan and Gervin break out laughing.
Later, while taping on the golf course at La Costa, the crew holds up a cue card the size of a small condominium on which is written Jordan's intro for the next feature, on Vince Lombardi. "Aren't I a little young to be reminiscing about him?" he asks.
In Pittsburgh, which hasn't had an NBA team since 1947, Jordan is making promotional appearances for Coca-Cola, which has furnished a white stretch limousine so he can escape the crowds that seem to gather wherever he goes. Women TV reporters gasp as he enters a hotel suite set up for interviews. He knows the routine, the requirements. He understands about wireless mikes. He knows enough about how dark backgrounds look in pictures to suggest that he change his black T-shirt to one of a lighter color. "I got a whole bagful of them. Just be sure to pick up the [ Nike] logo," Jordan says with a laugh. On camera, a wink on his lips, he says to the interviewer: "It's a habit of mine now, noticing labels, logos, shoes. For instance, your sound man, with his Fila jacket and his Reeboks.... I haven't said anything to him yet, but I will."
"Let's be real," the woman with the mike says, refusing to melt. "Kids wearing Air Jordans out there on the playground aren't going to turn into Michael Jordans."