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M.J.'s visit raises Bucs profile again

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000


TAMPA -- There are signs, and then there are signs.

But when former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan, now president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards, shows up for your game and hangs out in your locker room after you wax the Chicago Bears 41-0, your time has arrived.

A guest of Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp, Jordan spent the game in the Glazer suite, then mingled with players and coaches in a private section of the locker room long after the game.

"Warren arranged that," executive vice president Bryan Glazer said. "He called our office and we extended the invitation. He came to watch the game and we tried not to bother him too much and let him enjoy the game. He was very gracious."

Winner of six NBA titles, Jordan saw the same thing everyone at Raymond James Stadium saw and may be back for more.

"Warren and I are friends who speak to each other by telephone every other week," Jordan said. "I am a big fan of his. He invited me to be his guest today and the Glazer family was kind enough to let me sit in their box. The defense was playing great. I plan on coming back to a game later this season."

Last week, Sapp told team officials he wanted to invite Jordan to the game. The Bucs kept it quiet until Sunday, when it was confirmed.

The Bucs rapidly are becoming the team of the stars. During training camp President Clinton dropped by after attending a fund-raising function in Tampa. Director/producer Spike Lee visited the Bucs sideline during their Sept. 3 game at New England.

"If we win every time a celebrity comes, I think we should just start to fly everybody down here," guard Frank Middleton said. "I would just pick a name out of a hat and get someone famous down here."

Sapp, an avid basketball fan who occasionally attends Magic games in Orlando, apparently shares his opinions with Jordan.

"Warren calls me all the time to offer his advice as to who we should sign to our basketball team," Jordan said. "I have yet to listen to any of his suggestions or taken his advice."

Said defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin: "Last week it was Spike Lee, this week it was Jordan. Now all we need is Tiger."

- Staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report.

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