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Give It Up, Michael

I am sick of Michael Jordan.

I didn't always feel this way. Through most of Jordan's illustrious playing career, I enjoyed following him and the Bulls. It really was like watching Babe Ruth play -- there really was no one in basketball history, with the possible exception of the late Wilt Chamberlain, who redefined a sport the way Jordan did.

I even forgave him his first retirement -- though he claimed it was because of the murder of his father, the rumors persisted that Jordan was asked to stay away from the NBA for a while because of gambling problems. His foray into baseball was silly, but all it proved was that he was a remarkable enough athlete to come back and play three more seasons at peak level.

Now why would you take a career that ended so perfectly in 1998, and tack this soggy two-year epilogue on the end of it? Selfishness is the only thing I can think of. He didn't need the money. He wasn't and isn't going to win another championship. He put the lie to his declaration that he'd "never play for anyone other than Phil Jackson" -- though he did have the choice to do that, he turned it down. Oh, the Jerrys aren't blameless here. "Organizations win championships," J. Krause bleated. Gee, you've won a lot of them in the last five years, Mr. Krause.

But Jordan's time has passed. Sure, maybe he deserved one last time in the limelight, but the coverage the Chicago Sun-Times gave him today was ridiculous -- the back page, plus two big-name columnists. The Chicago Tribune (free registration required) had it about right -- on page three. All Jordan did was take the spotlight away from the man who did deserve it, China's Yao Ming, who is the real future of the NBA.

Jordan reminds me of that sad picture of Willie Mays, hands in the air after being tagged out in the World Series, at the age of 42, a shadow of what he once was.

At least Mays ended his career in a World Series. Jordan could have had that, but selfishly took that legacy away from himself, and all the rest of us.

Trivia question: During Jordan's baseball career, he played one exhibition game at a major league ballpark. Which one?

answer tomorrow.