Stars lose their luster with Jordan’s absence |

Stars lose their luster with Jordan’s absence

Rick Chandler

Although touting their field as the best ever in the 10-year history of the event, officials at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship are still wringing their hands over the one that got away, again – former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan.

It’s hard to find fault in a field that includes the star power of John Elway, Wayne Gretzky, Dan Marino, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

But Jordan, who had always been a fixture at this event – indeed, put the tournament on the map – was conspicuously absent once again this year when the tournament lineup was announced in April. He last played here in 1996.

“It’s disappointing. Jordan would have been the capper to our greatest field ever,” said NBC Director of New Business Development Kevin Monaghan. “There are a lot of reasons he has skipped the tournament. The past two years he had just come off of the NBA Finals, and his game wasn’t up to where he thought it should be.”

It should come as little surprise to those who have followed Jordan’s career that the former Bulls star is a perfectionist, even when it comes to golf. If he doesn’t have time to work on his game prior to a big tournament, he is likely to take a pass.

“Jordan has a lot of pride in his game,” Monaghan said. “People expect a lot of him in anything he does. You might say that he wants to put his best foot forward.”

Add to that the fact that the tournament is on television. NBC would broadcast virtually every shot of a high-profile athlete such as Jordan, meaning that his entire game would be open to scrutiny.

“I think Michael likes to play golf and be around the guys, but I’m not sure he likes having every shot he hits shown on TV,” said four-time American Century Tournament champion Rick Rhoden, a former major league pitcher. “We would love to have Michael. Any event Michael comes to, you’re almost guaranteed good attendance.

“We wish he would play in more events, but I’m sure he has his reasons for not coming,” Rhoden said. “I’m sure NBC wishes he was here.”

In short, they do.

“I’ve heard that Michael just had a lot of other commitments this year,” Monaghan said. “It’s his first full year away from basketball, and he had some family things to attend to.”

Jordan and his wife, Juanita, have three children: Jeffrey, Marcus and Jasmine.

“But I would bet on him coming back next year,” Monaghan said. “I think he’ll be back.”

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