Jordan Ready to Start from Scratch
Posted Oct 1 2001 12:00AM
MJ meets media for first time since return announcement
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (AP) -- Michael Jordan's need to play basketball again is stronger than his fear of tarnishing his legacy.
"What I'm trying to do is get that last scratch in."
Speaking in calm, measured tones on a stage set up at the Wizards' practice court, Jordan touched on several subjects related to this comeback -- the second of his career.
He said he is not afraid to fail and does not want to steal the spotlight from the league's younger stars. He also said he considers himself 100 percent fit and plans to play in all 82 of Washington's games.
As for his legacy and the storybook finish to his career with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan said those factors were more important to other people than to him.
"If that was my concern, I wouldn't do this. I'm not afraid to take on a challenge," he said.
He said he will try to take things slowly this season, not trying to do too much too soon. He said the Wizards should improve on last season's record of 19-63, but he'd be "surprised" if Washington was able to win 50 games.
The Wizards will open training camp Tuesday in Jordan's hometown, Wilmington, N.C. Their first regular season game is Oct. 30 in New York against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
"I have to be patient, let things fall into place and not expect myself to score 40 or 50 points the first night," said Jordan, who strode onstage for his news conference wearing a black and red sweat suit.
"It's all about challenges and going out and seeing if I can achieve something," Jordan said.
"America is supposed to be free will and choosing what you want to do. That's all I'm doing -- I'm just trying to play the game of basketball. If I can do it, great. If I can't, that's great too. But you can't take my six championships away and you can't take away all the things that I'm about," he said.
Admitting he will be somewhat nervous, Jordan nonetheless made it clear he is not afraid to return to the sport he dominated for the better part of a decade.
He has heard the brash talk from some of the league's younger players and how they will relish the chance to compete against a player considered by many to be the greatest in the game's history. He has been reading the nation's columnists, many of whom think he is making a mistake that will tarnish his legacy. He has heard his good friend Charles Barkley call it a "no-win" situation.
To him, though, none of those voices matter.
"I'm not walking into this darkly. I know what I'm capable of doing. I know what's going to be expected of me. I know everybody is putting my head on the chopping block," Jordan said.
"Everyone is motivated to come out and play against me, but everyone was motivated to play me when I left. So nothing has changed."