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NBA BOOTLEG: Collins says MJ may not return

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This Could Be It For Mike
(Washington Post) Wizards Coach Doug Collins appeared on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption Wednesday afternoon and dropped a semi-bombshell regarding Michael Jordan's future with the Wizards.

Jordan, who signed a two-year contract with the Wizards last September, had been expected to playing until he was forced to leave the court on a stretcher. According to Collins, that sort of scene may not be too far away.

"I'd be surprised next year if he did play," Collins told hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. When asked if the 2001-02 season could be his final year, Collins confided that "it could be. I don't know. I just think the wear and tear ... I'm not saying he's not going to play. I am saying right now I think that's up in the air.

"But I don't think there's any assurances of how he's going to be able to play next year and go through a full 82-game season. Michael's got great pride. He does not want to come back next year and be injured and go through the season where he's on the injured list." Collins also mentioned that Jordan's knee was at 60-65 percent, a missive that could be taken as the ramblings of a perpetual coaching pessimist, a Jordan apologist, or a concerned friend. Hell, Dougie's still a concerned employee as well, in spite of the friendship and all this team has accomplished thus far in 2001-02, he still has to answer to the man who gets his ownership stake and President title back whenever he feels like it.

Jordan came back eight days ago from arthroscopic knee surgery, the first such procedure of his life, he's shooting just 16 of 47 (34 percent) since his return. Jordan is shooting a career-low 42 percent from the floor, averaging 5.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds to go along with a 23.3-point average (with just over 10 points a game since his return from surgery).

"He's not ready to play more minutes," Collins said after the Wizards trashed the Nuggets for a second time in a week on Tuesday night. The knee "is still bothering him. He doesn't have the strength in that leg back yet.

"I don't want to play him and then his knee gets swollen. At the same time he wants to play and also he's got to play enough to be able to get himself in some condition. It's sort of a Catch-22."

Sort of? SORT OF? Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?

Jordan could not be reached for a reaction last night, and Collins declined comment after falling ill during yet another Kornheiser diatribe on the good hair and relative good fortune of Phil Mickelson. Wizards "general manager" Wes Unseld however, was not amused:

"I don't know where Doug is getting that information," he told the Washington Times. I'm not much for speculation, but Jordan himself probably isn't too chuffed at the prospect of Collins playing public MD.

The Wizards are two and a half games behind Indiana for the 8th and final playoff spot. Their next game is against the Bucks, at home, on Friday. They have 11 games left, including two contests against Milwaukee, visists by Indiana, the Lakers, and the 76ers, and trips to Charlotte, New Jersey and Illadelph.

THE DISTILLERY

Shawn Kemp is all about the feel good story ... Dell Curry is still alive, and he'll be out for two weeks ... The Bucks are missing Scottie Williams. So are the Nuggets ... Michael Redd is the latest Buck to get slapped around; he sprained his knee and will be out for at least a week ... Tracy McGrady is the next Larry Bird. Or the next Lee Trevino ... The Daddy is getting angry ... Darius Miles is hurting, and Alvin Gentry is a damn Muppet. This is how my Clippers have finished their season ... Jake Tsakalidis: not a stiff ... DerMarr Johnson: meek, rangy, doesn't make eye contact ... Donnell Harvey thinks the Dallas owner should just go foul himself ... If Billy Donovan was worth his weight in pomade, then just imagine the Florida frontcourt he would have had in 2001-02: Harvey, Udonis Haslem, Kwame Brown, and Mike Miller. It'd be ugly, but quite effective ... Jamaal Magliore keeps getting better, and Doc Rivers has to answer yet another question about why Orlando traded their draft picks. Apparently, he's not allowed to use the phrase "Tracy friggin' McGrady" in his responses ... The "Andre Miller, He Aiight Tour 2002" rolls along ... The Seattle SuperSonics did what the Nets should have done earlier this year ... Danny Fortson is a considerate, thoughtful University of Cincinnati grad ... Dr. Ive was right after all ... Vince Carter: rich, young, black, woozy.

Tagged: Nuggets, Clippers, Bucks, Nets, Thunder, Wizards

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