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Jordan’s Next Move Could Be His Most Pivotal

L’Observateur / June 29, 1998

When Michael Jordan’s 17-foot jump shot from the top of the key flashed through the net with 5.2 seconds left in Game Six of the NBA Finals, givingthe Chicago Bulls their sixth title in eight years, it could very well have signified a change of eras.

It has been 16 years since a then-little known freshman at the University of North Carolina came upon the sports scene by making a similar shot in the waning moments of the NCAA championship game against Georgetown.

Since then, he has a rookie of the year, a winner of six Finals MVP awards as well as becoming perhaps the most recognizable athlete on the planet.

His endorsements range in the tens of millions, his own brand of shoes and his face on the cover of Wheaties. Jordan has even starred on the bigscreen in “Space Jam”. Everybody wanted to be like Mike.Now everybody wants to know what Mike is going to do. Is he going tostrap the Bulls onto his back once again and lead them to a seventh world title? Or will he take his game to the links full-time? It is a decision that will affect not only the Bulls but the entire NBA for without Jordan, the race for the title becomes wide open.

There are those who argue that the NBA was around before Jordan and will survive long after he is gone. That is true but it was a different gamebefore and will be a different one after.

Jordan took the game to another level in popularity even long before the Bulls’ championship parade in Chicago became somewhat of an annual event. His dunks in his early years became regulars on plays of the weekfeatures and brought life to a team that desperately needed it. And once hegot some help, few players in any sport have shown the ability to single- handily will a team to victory like Jordan.

Jordan has retired before, shortly after his father was murdered in 1993.

But while he was able to come back that time to lead the Bulls to the greatest season in NBA history, it will not be so easy to return if he decides to call it a career again. Some day, age will have to catch up thisageless wonder.

The breakup of the Bulls’ dynasty has already begun with the resignation of coach Phil Jackson this week. Even with Jordan, the Bulls could not getover the top and win a championship until Jackson came on as coach.

Scottie Pippen has also given indications that this may be his last dance with the Bulls and Dennis Rodman has also talked about leaving.

Jordan has been non-committal about his plans for the future. During thecelebration immediately following the win in Game Six, Jordan hugged his teammates and seemed to indicate that this was the end of the line. But atthe victory celebration days later, Jordan told the crowd that he hoped that they could share that type of celebration again.

Jordan has determined many an outcome of a game during his distinguished career. His next move could determine the outcome of the NBA in years tocome.

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