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Tuesday, February 26
 
Jordan placed on injured list; status uncertain

Associated Press

Michael Jordan
Jordan

WASHINGTON -- Michael Jordan will have surgery on his injured right knee and his status for the rest of the season is uncertain, Washington Wizards coach Doug Collins said Tuesday.

Jordan was placed on the injured list for only the second time in his career, meaning he will miss at least five games, starting with Wednesday night's home game against Portland.

"Michael has decided to have an arthroscopic procedure. It will done in the next couple of days," Collins said. "Michael is very disappointed."

ESPN's David Aldridge reports the Wizards are hoping Jordan will miss only one to four weeks, but they won't have definitive word on his status until after surgery.

As Collins spoke, Jordan was meeting with team physician Stephen Haas, who will perform the surgery. The Washington Post said the surgery will be performed Wednesday or Thursday.

"He's got to go in there and just find out what's causing the irritation and why his knee is continuing to swell," Collins said. "And depending on how much work he has to do, that will be the deciding factor in how long Michael will be out."

Jordan's only previous major injury came in 1985, when he broke his left foot and missed 64 games in his second season with the Chicago Bulls. Other than his two retirements, he has not missed more than four games in a season since -- and he didn't miss any during his final three years in Chicago.

Kwame Brown, the overall No. 1 pick in the NBA draft straight out of high school last June, will be activated to take the 39-year-old Jordan's spot on the roster. Brown went on the injured list two weeks ago with a pulled hamstring and strained left calf.

Jordan's knee was so sore he couldn't play the final 6:27 of a 92-80 loss Sunday night at Miami -- even when the outcome was still in doubt. After the game, Jordan seemed resigned to his fate and even talked about the possibility that the injury could force a "closure" to his career.

"My mind is still consistent," Jordan said. "But my body isn't."

Jordan has been bothered by tendinitis in his right knee since he began workouts in preparation for his second comeback. He has had fluid drained from the knee at least three times this season and banged it in a knee-to-knee collision with teammate Etan Thomas 2 weeks ago. The injury has caused him to miss two games -- Dec. 4 at San Antonio and last Wednesday at Detroit.

Jordan was not available for comment, but his remarks and his one-dimensional play in recent days made it clear that his knee was hurting. He has been unable to drive to the basket with his usual vigor, and he took himself out of Saturday's game against the Heat with 6:27 to go -- and the outcome still in doubt.

"I'm getting old," he said after the game. "It's a sign that this might be coming to a closure as to where my career is heading. The body sends you messages, and tonight my body won."

Jordan had to overcome broken ribs, back spasms and tendinitis in his wrist to make this comeback. He also lost about 30 pounds.

Jordan's surgery couldn't come at a worse time for the Wizards, who have lost five straight and seven of eight since the All-Star break to drop to 27-28.

Things got even worse Tuesday, when starting center Jahidi White injured his shoulder in practice. White and his backup, rookie Brendan Haywood (swollen left knee), probably won't play Wednesday.

"This makes it this much tougher," Collins said. "Everybody's going to wait for us to collapse, and everybody's going to wait for us to fold up the tent."

Jordan's absence leaves some sobering questions for the Wizards. He had planned to play two seasons before returning to the front office, but now he might be one and done.

Jordan's most remarkable achievement was to turn the perennial losers into contenders over the first half of the season, but now the Wizards have lost five straight and are 1-7 since the All-Star break -- and the only win was by one point on a last-second basket by Jordan.

The Wizards (27-28) are below .500 for the first time since Jan. 22. Richard Hamilton, the team's second leading scorer, isn't 100 percent because of a mild aggravation of a groin injury. The toughest part of the schedule -- nine road games in 17 days in mid-March -- is yet to come.

The Wizards are tied with the Sixers, last year's Eastern Conference champions, for the eighth and final playoff spot.

"We started out 2-9," Collins said. "And the one thing that held us together was that we stayed resilient and stayed together and didn't fragment. That's what we have to continue to do."




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