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Tears, Not Shots, Flow for Jordan

January 20, 2002|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — His statue sits in front of the arena.

Playing in Chicago can never be just another game for Michael Jordan.

"I have too many memories," he said. "It's important for me not to come back and try to live up to that situation because that's tough. I may have a good game maybe the next time I come here.

"But to try to compare the two eras or the two situations, it's very, very tough."

The struggle between past and present was clear Saturday as Jordan made his first trip to Chicago as a visiting player. The Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls, 77-69, but Jordan had about as bad a game as he's ever played.

He tried not to cry as fans gave him a thunderous, three-minute ovation before the game, and he didn't have much better luck containing his emotions the rest of the game. He had a career-high nine turnovers, and was only seven of 21 from the floor for 16 points.

"When the crowd started that whole thing, it made it tough for me to play," Jordan said.

He had 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots, but this game won't make any of his many highlight reels.

Said Bull forward Charles Oakley, Jordan's old teammate and friend, "We laid a big egg. We didn't look good, they didn't look good. ... It was a bad game."

Chris Whitney led the Wizards with 20 points, 10 coming on free throws in the final minute. Popeye Jones had 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who won their 19th game, matching last season's total.

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