'Be careful' of pals, NBA tells Jordan

April 01, 1992|By Sam Smith | Sam Smith,Chicago Tribune

NEW YORK -- The NBA yesterday absolved Michael Jordan of any wrongdoing regarding the recent gambling allegations that have surfaced against the Chicago Bulls' star but also warned him against associations with individuals of questionable character.

The announcement came after a 2 1/2 -hour meeting here among Jordan and his attorney, NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik, security director Horace Balmer and former federal judge Frederick Lacey, who was retained by the NBA.

"This situation has been investigated with complete cooperation from Michael and his attorneys," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement, "and Judge Lacey has assured us that there appears to be no reason for the NBA to take action against Michael.

"We've also been advised that Michael is not the subject of investigation by any law enforcement agency, [and] there is no evidence that Michael has ever gambled on NBA games.

"Michael has advised us he understands the gravity of the situation and that if he is not more careful about his associations, it can reflect adversely on his fellow players and the entire NBA. He has assured us that he will be more careful about those associations in the future."

Jordan, saying that as far as he was concerned the matter was now behind him, was contrite and apologetic as he met with reporters before last night's 96-90 victory over the New York Knicks.

"I knew that at some point they had to look into the situation, which they did," said Jordan, "and I just tried to be as straightforward as possible.

"There are things to be learned from this. Every individual learns from his mistakes, and that was a mistake, the whole encounter.

"No one's perfect -- Michael Jordan, you [media] or anyone else. I think the lesson that comes from this is that when you make a mistake, you've got to stand up and accept it and move on. I hated that I put myself in a predicament like that, and naturally from this point you have to evaluate yourself and the people you come into contact with.

"Sometimes you tend to forget as a public person the things you have to take into account. Naturally, it's an embarrassment for me, my family, the organization and the fans as well . . . and hopefully they can understand that mistakes will happen. The embarrassment is something I don't want to encounter again. The letting down of people is something I don't want to encounter again.

"I don't think it will cause me to withdraw from things I enjoy doing, but I'll look at them more cautiously and evaluate it better."

Asked about his comments of two weeks ago that he could associate with whomever he pleased, Jordan explained: "That was more or less a rebuttal to the attention I was receiving. That was one of those times I chose the Charles Barkley way and spoke without thinking. I really didn't evaluate the circumstances of the whole situation."

Jordan could have faced a league suspension but apparently earned no more than a slap on the wrists and advice to be more careful.

And he sounded like a chastened man.

"I made a very critical mistake in evaluating the people that I deal with," said Jordan. "I'm a sucker for a golf game. But it's going to make me more cautious and more aware of Michael Jordan and what to expect of Michael Jordan. In that area, I kind of let people down, and I want to apologize. I feel very embarrassed about it. But I don't want people to condemn me, because everyone is entitled to a mistake."

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