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Jordan still '99.9%' done

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Once again, Michael Jordan downplayed the notion he is planning a comeback. Once again, he left the door one-tenth of a percentage point open that it just might happen.

Responding to comments made by fellow Wizards owner Abe Pollin, the most authoritative source to date to give credence to the Jordan comeback rumors, the five-time NBA MVP told the Washington Post that his return is still very unlikely.

"I haven't wavered one bit from what I've been saying," Jordan said in Wednesday's edition of the paper. "If I had to answer today, I'm 99.9 percent sure I won't play again.

"I'm not going to come back as a showpiece. I wouldn't even think about it unless I thought I could maintain the level of play I had when I left. I'd only come back doing everything I always did. And I'm nowhere near that, nowhere close to that. I haven't played in three years."

Jordan has denied the comeback rumors several times over the past two months, but his latest statement will do little to stop the speculation. Even some of his friends, such as golfing buddy and Pittsburgh Penguins star Mario Lemieux, have not believed him.

Lemieux, speaking Tuesday after a Penguins practice, said he had talked to Jordan in the past 10 days and made it sound like Jordan was all but ready to don the uniform.

"He's going to give it a shot, and he's working very hard," Lemieux said. "He's taking his time, he's taking a few months to get ready, but I'm sure when he gets back, he'll be the best player again."

Cavaliers dump Magic

CLEVELAND -- Doc Rivers' pregame symptoms included a pounding headache, fever and stuffed-up sinuses. He felt only worse after watching his Magic lose to the lowly Cavaliers by 23 points.

Andre Miller's 10 points and eight assists in the first quarter set the tone as the Cavaliers had a rare easy night Tuesday, snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 101-78 win over the playoff-bound Magic.

"If you come in and play like that, you deserve to get your butt kicked," said Rivers, Orlando's second-year coach. "We didn't deserve to be in the building."

HEAT 83, 76ERS 81: Tim Hardaway sank a 22-footer with 5.6 seconds left, and host Miami won despite Allen Iverson's 41 points.

Aaron McKie was short on a 25-foot attempt for Philadelphia as time ran out.

Miami's Alonzo Mourning had 20 points and 16 rebounds in 26 minutes.

SPURS 91, MAVERICKS 79: David Robinson came off his only absence of the season to score a season-high 34 points as host San Antonio clinched the Midwest Division title.

NUGGETS 100, ROCKETS 99: Voshon Lenard hit a 10-foot jump shot from the baseline with two seconds left to eliminate host Houston from playoff contention.

BUCKS 105, BULLS 84: Scott Williams had a career-best 24 points, helping host Milwaukee to its first season sweep of Chicago.

By game's end, however, the Bucks were without leading scorer Glenn Robinson (eye abrasion) and top reserve Tim Thomas (dislocated shoulder).

Robinson missed the game after being poked in his right eye by rookie Jason Hart during the team's shoota-round. His status is day to day. Robinson was replaced in the starting lineup by Thomas, who came out in the third quarter holding his right shoulder, which had popped out of its socket. TRAIL BLAZERS 116, WARRIORS 88: Damon Stoudamire scored 23 points and Steve Smith had 18 as host Portland routed Golden State for the second time in five days.

TIMBERWOLVES 104, GRIZZLIES 91: Wally Szczerbiak scored 28 points as Minnesota routed Vancouver to clinch a playoff spot.

BLAZERS: Portland activated center Will Perdue, filling the roster spot of guard Bonzi Wells.

HORNETS: Scott Burrell, Charlotte's first-round draft choice from UConn in 1993, signed with the Hornets for the last four games of the season. Forward Tim James was placed on the injured list with tendinitis in his left knee.

LAKERS: Kobe Bryant returned to the lineup after missing four straight games with a sprained left ankle. ... The team placed Isaiah Rider on the injured list, saying he has back spasms WIZARDS: Forward Tyrone Nesby was arrested in the team's locker room after a game in Indianapolis and jailed on a warrant from an assault case in the state. The battery charge, however, most likely will be dropped, said John Sievers, the Knox County prosecutor. Nesby spent the night in jail before being released Tuesday morning. The misdemeanor warrant stemmed from a 1995 arrest in which Nesby was charged with hitting a fellow student at Vincennes University, Sievers said. DRAFT UPDATE: Notre Dame junior Troy Murphy has decided to make himself eligible for the draft, Irish coach Mike Brey announced. ... Chicago-area basketball star Eddy Curry said he will skip college and enter the draft. ... Michigan State sophomore Jason Richardson is leaving for the draft. Freshman Zach Randolph scheduled a news conference today to discuss his decision.

SUIT SETTLED: The New York Times Co. and the NBA have settled a lawsuit over who owns the right to sell newspaper photographs taken at games. To settle the suit, the Times and the NBA agreed that the Times would display an NBA logo on its Web site and in any advertisements for the photographs. The Times Web site also will include a link to the NBA's.

MEMPHIS UPDATE: Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist pledged to support a publicly financed arena in Memphis, although he said it will be difficult to provide as much state funding as the project's backers want, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

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