Michael Jordan cites personal reasons for withdrawing from ACC | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Michael Jordan cites personal reasons for withdrawing from ACC

Jeremy Evans
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Michael Jordan follows a drive during the celebrity golf tournament in 2004 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Charles Barkley. John Elway. Michael Jordan. Mario Lemieux. These are some of the players who have become synonymous with the American Century Championship.

But for the first time in four years, the biggest draw of the bunch will be absent this week at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course after Jordan pulled out of the 17th annual tournament on Tuesday because of personal reasons.

“I know he was very disappointed because he loves the event and I know he was looking forward to being here again,” NBC Sports Senior Vice President Jon Miller said. “I know a lot of people come to see Michael, but this tournament will be able to endure. Even though Michael won’t be here, we still have some of the biggest sports stars and entertainers.”

Miller learned Monday night that Jordan wouldn’t be in Stateline, but the news didn’t reach fans of the six-time NBA champion until Tuesday afternoon.

Steve Duong and Gabriel Santiago left the Bay Area late Monday night and arrived at the South Shore by 3 a.m. After sleeping in their car for four hours, Duong and Santiago woke up at 7 a.m.

Dreaming it would be a special day, they put on their Chicago Bulls’ jerseys, the ones with Jordan’s signature No. 23 on the back, passed through Edgewood’s gates and walked toward the clubhouse. After waiting for hours to see arguably the best basketball player of all time, it wasn’t until almost 2 p.m. before the 23-year-olds from San Jose heard the bad news.

“That sucks, but I knew something like this would happen,” said Duong, who took Tuesday and Wednesday off from summer school to see Jordan.

If Jordan had shown, Duong was going to skip class on Thursday and Gabriel was planning to call in sick for work.

Another disappointed fan was Jordan Spaschak, 11, whose parents drove from Redding, Calif., in the hopes they would catch a glimpse of Jordan. With a red Bulls’ jersey draped over his slight shoulders, Spaschak explained his disappointment.

“I just wanted to see him in person because I never have before,” said Spaschak, who also was seeking the five-time NBA MVP’s autograph. “He’s a great basketball player and a good person off the court as well.”

While Jordan wasn’t present to sign autographs on Tuesday, about a dozen other sports stars and entertainers were. Among the celebrities who signed on Tuesday were actor Jack Wagner, Houston Texans quarterback David Carr, former Major League Baseball All-Star Wally Joyner and four-time champion Dan Quinn.

Autograph seekers seem to create a mob scene around celebrities, but nothing ever compared to the galleries Jordan attracted when he played golf at Edgewood. Jordan, who didn’t play in the 2001 tournament but has played in 11 overall, usually imported his own security personnel to ensure adoring fans didn’t threaten his safety.

Even though that element will be missing this week, the other celebrities said life will go on without Jordan.

“Michael’s been our premier celebrity since our first year,” said Quinn, a former NHL All-Star with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “Not to take anything away from anybody, (but) I think this event has become bigger than any of us. Not one guy is irreplaceable.”

Practice rounds continue today and Thursday before the 54-hole tournament begins on Friday.

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