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You don’t have to retire M.J., just stop the underwear ads

Well, it’s official — it is now a crime to feed the pigeons in Burlingame, CA. Fearing that a burgeoning pigeon population would lead to the birds eventually taking over, like in a Hitchcock movie, the city council snapped into action. You can now be fined $100 for tossing a handful of seed to the pigeons — or $1,000 if you throw them scraps from a place of business.

If you see such activity, report it. John Ashcroft says we must be ever vigilant.

If this becomes a growing trend, two of my favorite leisure pastimes will become extinct. Oh how I used to love to feed the pigeons, and then walk over to the neighborhood sports bar and watch Michael Jordan. (My third favorite pastime, observing Bobby Knight throttle mouthy students, is also in serious jeopardy).



Jordan announced last Thursday that this season would definitely be his last. There’s “zero chance” that he will be back. Seriously folks, this is it. So if he comes to your town, get a ticket, because it will be your last opportunity to see him play.

Ha ha! Just kidding of course. Jordan is a professional athlete, and so when it comes to retirement, don’t believe anything he says. You may recall that Jordan said much the same thing the first two times he retired, and we all foolishly believed him. I still have the freakin’ Bulls jersey I bought in 1998, thinking it would be worth something.




Oh, you are saying, this time he really means it. Well, I’m still waiting for those flying jet packs they were promising us back in the early 1960s. We were all supposed to be flying around like The Rocketeer by 1980, but in case you haven’t noticed you’re still stuck in traffic in your Toyota Corolla.

For great athletes, trying to retire is like attempting to kick a drug habit. Look at Magic Johnson, Cris Carter, Joe Montana a?¦ heck, Joe Namath swallowed his pride and put on a Los Angeles Rams uniform for a season. Remember Willie McCovey playing for the A’s on a pair of arthritic knees? It’s just too hard to call it quits after you’ve live all of your adult life with that daily adrenaline fix.

Willie Mays playing that final season with the New York Mets wasn’t that big of a deal, because they weren’t making dumptruck-loads of money in the early 1970s, like they are now. But with all the money Jordan has pulled in over his career, there is no reason to come back, ever. But it’s hard to sit in the stands and watch Hedo Turkoglu and not say to yourself, “I think I might be better than him. Maybe I should come back next season.”

We as Jordan fans need to head off this kind of thinking — nip it in the bud. We can have an intervention. I suggest my house, first week of June 2003; just about the time when Jordan, playing a pickup game with some pals, will begin to relapse. He’ll make some great move, and some of his friends will whoop it up a little, and the next day you’ll see that he’s scheduled a press conference.

But no. That night we’ll invite him over to my place for some Pictionary, and when he walks in, we’ll confront him. You’re soon to be 40 years old, Michael. Your children live hundreds of miles from Washington D.C. Your knees can’t take it anymore. And the most compelling reason of all: you play for the freakin’ Wizards.

Jordan fans have become very spoiled. We think about the six championships with the Bulls, but we tend to forget the several years before that when Michael was still Michael, but the Bulls weren’t winning rings. It took the addition of Scottie Pippen and the rest of the cast to make Chicago Title Town Midwest. Jordan was the best player, but not the only player, as he is now.

We’re not saying that he should retire, only that he has announced his retirement. And once you call it, there’s no taking it back. We just have this feeling that Jordan is dangling his career over the balcony, and will soon yank it back (sorry, that’s another MJ).

It’s very hard to let go; just ask Magic, and all those hungry Burlingame pigeons. Fame is a drug. With some people, such as Robert Downey Jr., fame is a drug, and so is drugs. It’s hard to lick the habit.

So let’s all help Michael get through this. Just tell him that no, we will not attend your games if you decide to come back. Just go play with your kids. It’s over Michael. It’s not you … it’s me.

And no underwear ads! For God’s sake, you’re 40.

Rick Chandler’s interactive sports column, Capacity Crowd, found at

NBCSports.com. Contact Rick at RickChand@Earthlink.net


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