Jordan to sit for at least one game

Tuesday, December 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Michael Jordan's body is telling him to rest. He's listening _ for at least one game.

After getting fluid drained from his right knee for the second time this season, Jordan will miss the Washington Wizards' game at San Antonio on Tuesday.

An MRI on Monday revealed no serious damage to the knee, leaving Jordan hopeful he might return for the second game of the road trip, Thursday at Houston.

``My body is sending me messages, and I need to listen,'' Jordan said. ``I hope to be ready to play on Thursday.''

Jordan last missed an NBA game because of injury on March 5, 1993, also against San Antonio. It was the second of two games he missed while hospitalized with a foot infection.

Jordan hyperextended his knee during a preseason game, and it has been sore and swollen for much of the season. In addition, he's had tendinitis in both knees since he resumed workouts earlier this year.

At 38, Jordan has barely been able to practice for more than a week. When he does, he can't make it through the entire session.

Jordan is averaging 24.8 points and 38 minutes and is shooting just 40 percent, well below his career average. He also leads the league in shots taken and shots missed.

``We're pleased with the results of Michael's examination,'' Wizards general manager Wes Unseld said. ``Michael will rest the knee for a few days and continue his treatment so that he can return as soon as possible.''

Unseld said that ``Michael wants to play every minute of every game,'' but that coach Doug Collins ``will manage Michael's minutes in an effort to minimize the soreness in the knee.''

The wear and tear of an NBA schedule has always been the biggest threat to Jordan's second comeback. He was slowed by back spasms and two cracked ribs, as well as the knee tendinitis, in workouts to get in shape over the summer. He has also been playing with a sore right wrist.

Nevertheless, when he announced his return, he said he planned to play all 82 regular season games.

Instead, he made it through the first 16 before having to take this break. On the court, he has been obviously slower than his old self and no longer commands regular double-teams. His jump shots have often been flat and short _ usually the result of tired or injured legs.

Going into the season, he had hoped to play about 32 minutes per game, but the lack of support from his teammates has forced Collins to use him more. The Wizards are 5-11.

The good news for Jordan is that the MRI apparently showed no ligament or cartilage damage, which would have sidelined him much longer.

Collins said he was unsure who will start at small forward in place of Jordan. Courtney Alexander's confidence is shaken, and he's played little recently, so the coach said rookie Kwame Brown might fill the spot.

``We don't have a natural small forward,'' Collins said.

Jordan had the knee examined in Chicago by Dr. John Hefferon, the Bulls' former team physician. He left for Chicago after Saturday night's home loss to Orlando, and was scheduled to rejoin his teammates Monday night in San Antonio.