WASHINGTON - In his first public comment since firing Michael Jordan as president of basketball operations earlier this month, Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin said he will not talk about Jordan again.
Pollin, addressing the media after the NBA draft lottery results were revealed, declared the Jordan period over after what has been a tumultuous two weeks in which rumors and accusations have flown back and forth between the Wizards' organization and Jordan's camp.
"We're talking about the future," said Pollin. "We have great hopes for this franchise for the future, and we're not talking about the past.
"I'll only say one thing about the past. I never have said anything negative about Michael Jordan and I never will. And that closes the book on that."
Pollin, the longest-tenured owner in the NBA with 38 years at the helm of the Wizards/Bullets, ended Jordan's 3 1/2 -year term in Washington on May 7 in a meeting at MCI Center that reportedly ended in a shouting match between the men.
Since then, the owner has kept a low profile, granting only a short interview to a Washington Post columnist the day after the blowup. Pollin's appearance before the media last night was unexpected.
Pollin said he has already interviewed some candidates for Jordan's old position of president of basketball operations, and hopes to have a new person in place before the June 26 draft.
"I'd like that person to have a complete knowledge of the NBA and all the players; somebody who has had some experience in the NBA in some form or another," he said.
"There are a lot of people in the various sports who weren't the greatest players, but have turned out to be great executives and they are successful.
"We're looking to get everybody that we think is going to be the best person to turn this franchise around and that's what we're looking for."
The new individual will not only replace Jordan, who served as president for 1 1/2 seasons before coming out of retirement to play for two years, but also general manager Wes Unseld, who will leave the organization to tend to personal and health matters.
Unseld said the new president will decide the fate of coach Doug Collins, who was brought in by Jordan in one of his last official acts as head of basketball operations.
The team's fortunes apparently won't be reversed with its first-round pick, which came in at 10, which would have been the Wizards' natural slot.
Unseld said the Wizards' selection will be contingent on what happens with the picks ahead of them. He wouldn't rule out trading the pick, but said the decision on what happens with the selection likely won't be his to make.
"I'm not going to sit here and say what I'm going to do, because there's a good chance that I am not going to be in a position to make this pick," said Unseld.
"I will do all the legwork up until that time. If what you heard Mr. Pollin said has occurred, then the new individual will do it and I will advise him."