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Wizards tip off first full seasonon Jordan's watch

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000


WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Michael Jordan embarked on his first full season as Washington's president of basketball operations Tuesday when the Wizards opened training camp in his home town.

This time there won't be any excuses.

Last season, Jordan arrived in midyear and was forced to deal with someone else's cards. This year, he's in charge from the start.

When Washington starts the season Oct. 31 at Orlando, it will be with a roster revamped by Jordan, with a coach he hired and a front office he restructured. This is Jordan's team and everyone in the organization knows where his standards are set.

"Everybody knows Michael is a very competitive person, and he very much wants to develop a winning attitude with the Wizards," said coach Leonard Hamilton, lured away from the University of Miami by Jordan during the off-season. "Everyone here knows he expects success."

Jordan, who grew up in Wilmington and went to North Carolina, attended the first day of training camp at North Carolina-Wilmington's recreation center, but opted for a low profile.

Wearing sweat pants and a sleeveless T-shirt, Jordan popped in and out of the morning practice and spent the last half hour watching from a side court. He left as practice was winding down and tried to deflect focus to the players when approached by reporters.

"You guys don't want to talk to me -- the guys you need to talk to are out there," he said, pointing to the practice floor.

Jordan, whose Chicago teams won six NBA championships, became part owner and president of the Wizards on Jan. 19 and two weeks into his tenure fired coach Gar Heard in an effort to rejuvenate his new team.

Darrell Walker finished the season as interim coach, but Washington limped in at 15-23 and missed the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons.

Jordan expects more success this season -- he said last month it would be his fault if the team doesn't have a winning record -- but many of the problems plaguing Washington last season still exist.

One sore spot is the salary cap.

Washington is well over the cap because three players -- Juwan Howard, Mitch Richmond and Rod Strickland -- are signed to huge contracts. All three had subpar seasons and generated little interest in trade talks.

The Wizards did get Dennis Scott, Cherokee Parks, Obinna Ekezie and Felipe Lopez from Vancouver in exchange for disgruntled center Ike Austin, and forward Popeye Jones from Denver for Tracy Murray last week. But none is considered an impact player.

Wizards center Lorenzo Williams missed the first day of training camp and is scheduled to have arthroscopic knee surgery this week. Hamilton said there would be no timetable for Williams' return until after surgery.

Geiger injures knee

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Center Matt Geiger tore cartilage in his left knee, the first day of training camp for the 76ers.

Geiger also sprained ligaments in the knee, and could have surgery as early as today. Geiger missed the first 17 games of last season because of an injury to the same knee. There is no timetable for his return.

"It's very frustrating this had to happen," Geiger said. "I really took a lot of pride in my conditioning and work habits this summer."

CAVALIERS: Chris Gatling, traded five times in the past 18 months, was not with the team as it began two-a-day practices.

CELTICS: The team will acquire guard Chris Herren and swingman Bryant Stith from the Nuggets for swingman Calbert Cheaney and guard Robert Pack, the Associated Press reported.

HAWKS: Dion Glover could be sidelined several weeks with a stress fracture in his left foot. The injury was disclosed during the team's first day at training camp.

Also, forward Roshown McLeod missed the start of camp to travel to North Carolina for a family emergency.

KNICKS: The team signed free-agent center Felton Spencer and rookies Lavor Postell and Pete Mickeal.

NETS: The team signed free-agent guard Kevin Ollie, who appeared in 40 game for Philadelphia last season, averaging 1.8 points.

LEWIS CASE: The widow of former Celtics captain Reggie Lewis will be able to continue her legal battle against the doctor who was caring for her husband when he died in 1993.

In mid-July, Judge Thayer Fremont-Smith dismissed Donna Harris-Lewis' appeal in her malpractice suit against Dr. Gilbert Mudge. A jury in May cleared Mudge of negligence.

But on Tuesday, the judge ruled that Harris-Lewis' failure to make certain deadlines to press her appeal didn't constitute "inexcusable neglect."

TICKET HOTLINE: The league has set up a telephone service enabling fans to buy tickets to games in each of the league's 29 cities. Single-game tickets for the 2000-01 season go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday in each team's market using the NBA Hotline, operated by Ticketmaster at (800) 4NBA-TIX.

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