CHICAGO -- There has been about only one suggested way that Chicago Bulls' rookie sensation Michael Jordan was going to be stopped this year:
Jordan had been used to playing only about 35 games a year during his stellar collegiate career at North Carolina. And didn't he also have to play the entire summer in the Olympic tour before starting the grueling grind of an 80-game plus NBA season?
Not to worry, says Jordan. Burnout won't be a problem in the second half of his rookie season.
'Lots of people ask me that, but let me tell you, burnout won't be a problem for me,' Jordan says. 'I love to play basketball. The Olympics? The NBA schedule? No problem.'
Jordan insists he is not worried about any problems at the end of the season or in the playoffs. He says if he had his way, he'd be playing basketball on his rare off days.
'Coach (Dean) Smith used to get mad at me because I would be shooting and working out on off days. Man, I love the game, that's why I do it,' Jordan says. 'I'd play every day if I could.'
Is Jordan too good to believe?
'I think Michael means it. You look at him in practice and he doesn't tire out,' says Bulls' Coach Kevin Loughery, who has parlayed the use of his rookie into a playoff contender. 'Burnout is a thing that the media dreams up. I don't think Michael is going to have his performance affected at the end of the year.'
Other college stars have complained that it was more the rigors of NBA travel, rather than the actual games, that has caused them to be tired toward the end of their rookie seasons.
Jordan admits the flying from one city to another does take its toll but by playing in Chicago, he has an advantage over other rookies that come into the league.
'Being in the middle of the country has cut down on our flying time,' Jordan says. 'We never have to go coast to coast. We're in the middle so the longest flight is seldom over three hours. If I played on one of the coasts and had to go across the country a couple of times, it could be a factor.'
Speaking of flying, Jordan has shown some of the most memorable moments of the year in some Bulls' games. He has been called a 'one-man highlight film' by local media for his acrobatic moves that earned him a spot in the slam dunk contest in Indianapolis before the All-Star game.
He will be in the All-Star game, unusual for a rookie, because of the flair in which he has played this season.
'His enthusiasm is catching,' says teammate Orlando Woolridge. 'You have to sit back and watch Michael to appreciate him.'
Chicago and the NBA took Jordan to their hearts early, due in part to the good will generated by his leading the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal. He was on the cover of national sports magazines and newspapers so quickly that some had feared success would go to his head.
'Anyone who knows Michael Jordan,' says General Manager Rod Thorn, who selected Jordan as the third pick in last June's college draft, 'knows that won't be a problem. That's why he won't burn out. He's got a level head.'
Jordan admits he was a little surprised by the added attention he received in the opening months of the season.
'I guess some of it had to do with the Olympics, but there is so much I still have to learn in the game,' Jordan says. 'I still am learning defenses, I am learning to work with my teammates, learning how to spend my spare time.'
Spare time? When not shooting on his own, Jordan has landed several commercial endorsements. He also has spoken at local charity functions and clinics.
It may be the time away from the court may be more of a problem for the Wilmington, N.C., native.
'The thing I think I'll have to do in the second half of the season,' Jordan says, 'is to learn how to allocate my time. When I'm not playing, I like to relax, listen to music, watch some television. I do as much as I can to speak at charity functions when I can. But I also want to have some time for myself.'
Because Jordan has been so successful, the Bulls will likely be spending April doing something that has been rare for that franchise - participating in the NBA playoffs. That will lengthen a season for Jordan that actually began before his junior -- and final -- year with the Tar Heels.
'If it means getting in the playoffs, I won't mind,' Jordan smiles.
Even if he didn't participate in the playoffs, chances are you'd be able to see him shooting somewhere in Chicago after the season.