Coaches, players stunned by Jordan's retirement

October 06, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

NBA players, coaches and officials were stunned by the news that Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to three NBA titles and won seven consecutive NBA scoring titles, was announcing his retirement today.

Los Angeles Lakers forward James Worthy, who played with Jordan on North Carolina's 1982 NCAA championship team, was shocked.

"The guy's a competitor," Worthy told ESPN2. "If I had to bet, I would say that he would never retire. They'd have to throw him out of the league.

"But life is bigger than basketball. Michael is a very intelligent young man, and his being content and being happy is important to him."

Forward A. C. Green of the Phoenix Suns agreed.

"It's shocking, as James said," Green told ESPN2. "But at the same time, I can understand it because life is much more than dribbling a basketball. There are too many other variables in life. He has his own family, he has his mom and everyone else in that particular family, so there's a lot more going on. I can kind of sympathize with what's happening with him now."

The NBA, which enjoyed unprecedented success in the late 1980s and early 1990s due in part to the popularity of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Jordan, has lost all three in the last 23 months.

Johnson announced in November of 1991 that he was retiring because he had contracted HIV and Bird retired last season after playing on the Olympic team with Johnson and Jordan.

Johnson was en route to Europe last night.

Lakers coach Randy Pfund said that the league will develop new stars such as Shaquille O'Neil of the Orlando Magic and Larry Johnson of the Charlotte Hornets to replace Jordan, Johnson and Bird.

"The league has done a good job and has a great crop of young players coming along," Pfund said. "They have already started to take over what some of the older guys have passed along. There are good young players around and the league has plenty of good young teams. It has certainly grown beyond a one-, two- or three-player league."

Jan Hubbard, an NBA spokesman, deferred comment until after Jordan's news conference.

"The NBA is deferring to the Bulls on this," Hubbard said. "We're aware of the press conference, but it's their show."

Tom Wilson, president of the Detroit Pistons, said the NBA will miss Jordan.

"If it's true, it will be a sad day for the entire NBA family," Wilson said. "In my mind, he's the greatest player who ever played the game, and the most special athlete I've had the pleasure of watching."

Los Angeles Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor agreed.

"He's going to be missed," Baylor said. "And I think Chicago is going to miss him more than anyone. There's no doubt that he's done as much for the league as anyone who's ever played the game. He's probably done more. Michael is special."

Although Clippers coach Bob Weiss was stunned, he speculated that Jordan's retirement might not be permanent.

"The first word that comes to mind is 'shock,' " Weiss said. "I know he's been through a lot emotionally this summer. I'd be very disappointed for him as an individual to cut his career short.

"It's also very disappointing as a member of the NBA for the NBA because Michael has brought so much to the game. It's pretty much the same feeing you had when Magic and Bird retired. These guys are in a class of their own."

"Some players come along who are just different than anybody else," said Pfund. "And he is definitely one of those guys."

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