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Infighting, Losses Lead to Dismissal

May 08, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Imagine that, an NBA team showing Michael Jordan the door. Even he was shocked.

The Washington Wizards abruptly dumped basketball's most popular figure Wednesday, ending a relationship that produced much fanfare but little success over 3 1/2 seasons.

Disappointed with the team's poor record and embarrassed by infighting on and off the court, owner Abe Pollin informed Jordan about his decision in a 30-minute meeting at the team's arena.

During the meeting, Pollin offered Jordan a $10 million severance payment, according to a source, but Jordan turned it down.

He was the Wizards' president before coming out of retirement to play for them the last two seasons. He retired for good last month and expected to return to the front office.

"This was definitely my desire and intention," Jordan said in a statement. "However, today, without any prior discussion with me, ownership informed me that it had unilaterally decided to change our mutual long-term understanding.

"I am shocked by this decision, and by the callous refusal to offer me any justification for it."

He could end up working for the new expansion franchise in Charlotte or for the Chicago Bulls.

Robert Johnson, new owner of the Charlotte NBA franchise, said Wednesday that Jordan can have "any role he wants to play." He and Jordan have already had discussions, a person with knowledge of the talks told Associated Press on Sunday.

From Associated Press

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