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Jordan News Hits Chicago Hard

January 12, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) _ Michael Jordan is set to leave basketball, and what awaits the Chicago Bulls and their fans does not look promising at all.

``Losers! Losers! Losers!″ Derrick Watt, a 32-year-old Chicago machinist, groaned Tuesday as he left the restaurant bearing the name of the basketball great. ``Without Michael, they’ll be in the basement of their division.″

As word of Jordan’s expected retirement spread across Chicago, the realization set in that a championship era appears over.

``I probably won’t watch the Bulls as much,″ said Richard Mabbun, 29, a computer network analyst. ``They’ll be much less exciting without Jordan.″

``But he went out the way everyone wants to go out _ right on top,″ Mabbun said.

Some fans thought the lockout spurred Jordan to end the greatest career in basketball history.

``I personally thought that he didn’t want to be part of this season because it’s so tainted,″ said Megan Brennan, 20, a University of Iowa student from Glen Ellyn. ``I’m glad that he left because I’m glad that he went out winning his last championship for the Bulls.″

But Tim Moran, a 35-year-old Chicago lawyer, didn’t think NBA championship No. 6 will be Jordan’s last. He recalled Jordan retired once before and came back.

Moran said he thinks Jordan is so fed up with Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause that he’ll wait a year and go elsewhere. Jordan was close to coach Phil Jackson, who left after last season following years of stormy relations with Reinsdorf and Krause.

``I see him going to a different city to spite Reinsdorf and Krause,″ Moran said.

John Rosenberg, 31, a Toronto travel agent lunching at Michael Jordan’s, said the superstar’s departure was ``a shame for the game, not just for Bulls fans.″

``If he wants to move on he can leave at the top of his game,″ Rosenberg said. ``If he sticks around and his skills start declining, everyone’s going to say, oh, he should have retired three years ago.″

Many fans, however, just couldn’t imagine a Jordan slowed by age.

``Nah, he’ll always have his skills, he’s the greatest player ever,″ said Rose Cygen, 19, of Chicago, an employee of the United Center, the scene of so many of Jordan’s exploits.

Beside her loomed the dramatic statue of Jordan, erected when he retired in 1993 to play minor league baseball.

Sam Diaz, 25, an automatic teller technician who was passing the Jordan statue, said Jordan should come back.

``If I were him, I’d play the season, have a good time and get one more championship,″ Diaz said. He scoffed at the notion that Jordan, at 36, might succumb to the ravages of age. ``I think he can handle another year.″

But Calvin Short, 44, of Chicago, a United Center operations technician, wasn’t so sure.

``I enjoy watching him, but I think he’s about played out,″ Short said. ``I’d like to see him go out when he’s not a has been.″

Kinyu Kuyama, a tourist from Hiroshima, Japan, was having lunch at the restaurant bearing Jordan’s name. He said the Bulls superstar holds a special place in the hearts of his countrymen.

``They know Penny Hardaway, but Michael is special.″

He said there’s still plenty for Jordan to do.

``He could take up golf,″ Kuyama said. ``PGA. The senior tour.″

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