This week marks the first anniversarythe paper anniversary, according to wedding traditionof Michael Jordan’s presidency. If the first year of the Wizards-Jordan union is a harbinger, some sort of annulment seems inevitable. A chronology:
Jan. 19, 2000: During the grandest nonpolitical press conference in D.C. history, Jordan is introduced as the Wizards’ new president of basketball operations and minority owner. After Jordan gives his first pep talk to players, the Wizards lose by 18 points to the then-lousy Dallas Mavericks.
Jan. 29: Jordan, in absentia, fires head coach Gar Heard and gives his former Chicago Bulls teammate Darrell Walker the job. After the firing, Heard, who is still owed more than $5 million of Abe Pollin’s money, says Jordan didn’t talk to him “even once” after becoming president.
Feb. 1: Jordan declares that all Wizards must wear sports coats and slacks on the road. One downtown haberdasher for big and tall guys subsequently relates that players are dropping “between $3,000 and $4,000 apiece” in his store. The Wizards get knocked senseless in Seattle in the first game under Jordan’s dress code, on the way to a 15-game road losing streak.
Feb. 9: Jordan endorses Bradley for president. Bill, not Shawn.
March 9: Bradley throws in the towel on his campaign.
March 29: Rod Strickland doesn’t show up for a home game against Denver. Jordan, who doesn’t show up for the Nuggets game, either, fines the player $111,111one game’s pay for the $10 million-a-year guard.
April 17: Forbes reports that Jordan, who spends little time in Washington, may spend $5 million for a penthouse apartment at the Ritz-Carlton condominium complex on M Street NW. No report on whether the deal is ever closed.
April 18: Even with Walker on the job, Jordan announces a search for the next head coach, promising it will end before the NBA draft lottery.
April 18: On Fan Appreciation Night at the MCI Center, fans boo the Wizards off the court after the team loses to the Celtics by 33 points in the last home game of the season. “We’ve got some guys that want to be out of here,” Walker says after the game. “And I hope like hell [Jordan]…can accommodate them.” Jordan cans Walker a few weeks later.
April 19: After the team ends its season with a loss at Milwaukee, Jordan is asked about his plans. Just as George W. Bush harps on how he won’t be a divider during his administration, Jordan says he won’t be a subtracter. “I want to add more than subtract,” he explains. “I don’t believe in subtracting if we’re not going to do anything that adds.”
May 2: Jordan meets with Lenny Wilkens about the coaching vacancy. After the meeting, Wilkens tells an interviewer that Jordan offered him the job, inciting Jordan to tell Wilkens, the winningest coach in NBA history, that he is no longer being considered.
May 21: The NBA draft lottery comes and goes with the Wizards still coachless. So much for Jordan’s deadline.
May 22: Mike Jarvis, reportedly Jordan’s top pick to fill the coaching vacancy, says he doesn’t want the job and slams Jordan’s interviewing technique.
May 28: Random House announces it will publish an authorized biography on the new Wizards president, to be titled A Whole New Ballgame: Michael Jordan Comes to Washington, scheduled for release in fall 2001. Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon is rumored to have gotten an advance “in the low six figures” for securing Jordan’s cooperation. No other deal made by Jordan in his first year will pay such obvious dividends.
June 10: Jordan settles for Leonard Hamilton, a career loser as an NCAA coachwho has no NBA experienceto fill the Wizards coaching job.
June 15: Jordan seals deal with the University of North CarolinaWilmington to move the Wizards training camp from this area to his hometown.
June 24: Jordan tees off in the Michael Jordan Celebrity Golf Classic in Greenville, N.C., an hour from his hometown. No Wizards are invited to play.
June 28: Jordan uses his first and only draft pick on unknown forward Mike Smith from Louisiana
Monroe. When asked why he made the surprise selection, Jordan says, “I like hungry people.” Clearly, nobody educated the new president about the franchise’s long and sordid history with hungry players, from John Williams to Mel Turpin to Kevin Duckworth. (As of this week’s games, Smith is still starvinghe hasn’t scored a point this year.)
July 14: Darrell Walker is named head coach…of the Washington Mystics, a WNBA team.
Aug. 12: Jordan tells the Post he wants other teams to come into the MCI Center with no respect for the Wizards, in the hope that “we can sneak up on them.” The first half of his wish will eventually be granted.
Sept. 21: Jordan predicts that the Wizards will be a .500 team “without a doubt” and should make the playoffs this season. He says he will give players “very little rope.”
Sept. 25: Jordan trades Tracy Murray to Denver for Popeye Jones. “This is another step in our efforts to continue to improve our team,” says Jordan. (Murray averaged 11.1 points per game last year for the Wizards. Jones is currently putting up 0.8 ppg.)
Oct. 28: Strickland is arrested for refusing to leave a U Street nightclub after its closing. Hours later, Strickland, who shares an agent (David Falk) with Jordan, is given the same old pro forma fine by Wizards management for missing 10 a.m. practice. So much for very little rope.
Nov. 3: On opening night of the 2000-2001 season, a new team slogan, “Experience the Jordan Effect,” is unveiled in honor of the fledgling president. The Wizards lose to the New York Knicks.
Nov. 22: Jordan, with the Wizards off to a 3-9 start, says he’s already looking forward to next year’s draft. “We’ll beat the bushes and hope that we find some unexpected guys,” he says.
Nov. 28: Jordan trades center Cherokee Parks to the L.A. Clippers for Tyrone Nesby. “The transaction strengthens our roster,” says Jordan. Nesby (who later will become the first player in Wizards history to be forcibly removed from his own bench, by arena security, under orders from his own coach) is currently shooting a team-worst 35.7 percent from the field. Parks is in the last year of his contract; Nesby’s pact won’t expire until next season. So much for Jordan’s plan to free up salary-cap room.
Dec.15: Jordan, during an interview with a Chicago reporter from his Chicago home, declares that the Wizards are “a disgrace to the fans in Washington.”
Jan. 12, 2001: The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Wizards, giving Washington a 7-32 record, the worst in franchise history so late in the season. “Strickland Shows Up for Game,” reads the headline in the subsequent Post story. Jordan does not show up for the game. On this night, he’s hosting a barbecue at the Atlantis, a resort and casino in the Bahamas,site of the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament. No Wizards are invited to play. Dave McKenna