03/31/2005: Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that the conspiracy theory's not plausible....
In an interesting article in the New York Times, we get this interesting piece of gossip from Murray Chass:
A FELLOW I know has an interesting way of thinking. I wouldn't call him a conspiracy theorist, but he has held an intriguing theory for years. He has said many times over that he suspects that Michael Jordan's first retirement was not a retirement at all but an agreement with N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern. Jordan would sit out a year or two, my friend theorized, rather than having Stern suspend him for gambling.While there's no evidence to support that interpretation of the facts, the intriguing thing to me is that 1) it is in perfect accord with the observed facts, and 2) it is exactly the kind of deal you could expect the NBA to broker with the greatest player in the history of professional basketball (and, more importantly, greatest income-generation machine in the recent history of the league).
With that agreement, Jordan would pay a penalty, but neither he nor the National Basketball Association would be embarrassed.
NOTE: Not being an NBA fan, I'm basing that "greatest player" assessment on what I've seen/heard/read about Jordan, and I assume that it is at least arguable. I spent a couple years working at a consulting company in St. Louis alongside a die-hard hoops fan, and the suggestion that Jordan was the greatest player ever would send him into an apopleptic fit (his favorite of all time was Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain (or, if you prefer, Wilt "I've fucked 20,000 women" Chamberlain)).
Anyway, anyone who disagrees with the "greatest player ever" assessment and who knows whereof s/he speaks, please feel free to leave a note in the comments nominating your choice for that title (and the reasons for your choice). I'm not at all an admirer of Jordan, and I'll be very happy to take back that "greatest player" line if you have a good argument otherwise....).
Len on 03.31.05 @ 12:09 PM CST