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the NBA
Phil Taylor
November 08, 1993
Two For II
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November 08, 1993

The Nba

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Is There Life After Mike?
Yes, the Michael Jordan-less Chicago Bulls will still field a team this season, but if the history of other superstar retirements is any guide, they could be in for a fall.

FINAL SEASON

POSTRETIREMENT SEASON

Player, Team

Record

Playoffs

Record

Playoffs

Bill Russell, Celtics

48-34

Won NBA Championship '68-69

34-48

Missed playoffs '69-70

Wilt Chamberlain, Lakers

60-22

Lost NBA Finals '72-73

47-35

Lost in first round '73-74

Julius Erving, 76ers

45-37

Lost first round '86-87

36-46

Missed playoffs '87-88

Magic Johnson, Lakers

58-24

Lost NBA Finals '90-91

43-39

Lost in first round '91-92

Larry Bird, Celtics

51-31

Lost conference semis '91-92

48-34

Lost in first round '92-93

Michael Jordan, Bulls

57-25

Won NBA Championship '92-93

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Two For II

The final two spots on the 12-man team that will represent the U.S. at the world championships in Toronto next August—the so-called Dream Team II—won't be announced until next spring, which means the 1993-94 season shapes up as one long audition for the vacancies. At the moment 76er guard Jeff Hornacek and Clipper forward Danny Manning appear to be the leading candidates. (There's actually a third opening, but Magic center Shaquille O'Neal is likely to fill that one when USA Basketball and Pepsi, with whom O'Neal has a multimillion-dollar endorsement contract, resolve their well-chronicled dispute.)

The U.S. lost a point guard when the Warriors' Tim Hardaway went down with a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 21, but that doesn't necessarily mean another one will be chosen, since U.S.—and Warrior—coach Don Nelson still has a pair of point men: the Cavaliers' Mark Price and the Heat's Steve Smith. Hornacek, the Suns' Kevin Johnson and the Kings' Mitch Richmond are mentioned most often as replacements for Hardaway, but Hornacek has the inside track because of his outside shooting and versatility.

You can probably forget about Isiah Thomas. There were those who thought the selection committee might pick Thomas, the 12-time Piston All-Star, to make up for leaving him off the 1992 Olympic Dream Team roster, but the consensus is that Thomas is past his prime and can't match the versatility of some of the other players. "Frankly, although he's a great player, Isiah just didn't get enough support," says a member of the USA Basketball commission that selects the team.

The Hawks' Dominique Wilkins is the only true small forward on the formidable roster, which is why Manning is the top candidate for the other opening.

But there is still plenty of time for NBA players—unlike the '92 team, there will be no collegian on this squad—to play themselves into or out of consideration.

Not So Great Scott

Amid all the commotion over Michael Jordan's retirement, several other NBA veterans who called it quits after last season were allowed to slip away without a proper goodbye, so let's take a moment to say farewell to such familiar faces as Kevin McHale (page 146), Bernard King, Tree Rollins, Sidney Green and Larry Smith. And then there's Scott Hastings, who announced the end of his 11-year career two days before Jordan's stunner.

Hastings, a joke-cracking, splinter-gathering backup center with a 2.8 career scoring average, says it wasn't just a coincidence that Jordan was so quick to follow him into retirement. "Most people didn't notice that at his retirement press conference, Michael's microphone went dead for a few minutes," Hastings says. "What he was saying during that time was that it made no sense for him to keep playing now that he no longer had Scott Hastings to compete against. There was just no challenge for him any longer."

Of course, Hastings is kidding, which is what he did best during a career that included stints with the Knicks, Hawks, Heat, Pistons and Nuggets. He quit the game to split his time between doing color commentary on Nugget telecasts and NBA analysis for the new ESPN2. "I'll basically be Jack Ramsay with a sense of humor," he says.

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