Jordan rejects starting offers

Jan. 31, 2003 at 10:52 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Long-time NBA great Michael Jordan has turned down offers from two of the game's young guns to start in the upcoming All-Star game.

Jordan, who was named a reserve for the Eastern Conference for what is likely his last All-Star appearance, has been offered a starting spot by Tracy McGrady and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson. He has rejected both.

Earlier this season, Jordan had said it would not have bothered him if he did not win a starting spot in voting by the fans.

"Allen called me a week and a half ago," Jordan told reporters after his Washington Wizards lost at Milwaukee Thursday night. "He called me personally. No one knew about it. I told him, 'You go ahead. I'll be there and I look forward to hanging out with you guys.' I take it as a compliment, but I would rather for them to play and start and let me come off the bench without any side deals. I like it just the way it is."

Jordan indicated that the gestures spoke positively about the younger players.

"That shows the type of people they are, what they know about the history of the game, and about guys who have paved the way," Jordan said of McGrady and Iverson. "I would have done it for Dr. J (Julius Erving), and I'm pretty sure Dr. J would have done it for somebody else. It just shows how much they care about the game and how much the game has evolved."

McGrady is the NBA's leading scorer and the top vote-getter for the East.

Washington Coach Doug Collins had similar sentiments.

"I think you're seeing these young players realize not just the magnitude of what a great player Michael has been throughout his career and what he has done for this league, but all of our salaries have about quadrupled because of what he's been able to do," Collins said.

Jordan was upset about the negative comments about Vince Carter of Toronto, who was voted a starter even though he has played very little this season because of various knee injuries.

"It's unfair," Jordan said. "It's a Catch-22. Even me accepting Tracy or Allen's offer would make Vince look bad. That's not what it's about. There's no bad person in this scenario. Vince is doing exactly what the fans suggested him to do."

Jordan has said he will retire at season's end. This will be his 14th All-Star appearance. He has earned three All-Star MVP awards while recording the only triple-double in the game's history, and holds the highest points per game average in All-Star Game history with 21.3 points per game.

Also, on Jan. 22, he passed the late Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA's third all-time leading pointmaker.

The last time a Wizards franchise player was named to back-to-back NBA All-Star games was Moses Malone in 1987 and '88.

This year's contest will be played in Atlanta on Feb. 9.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories