An Open Letter

by Louis Scerra | 4/13/01 5:00am

Michael, I have been saying it for the past two years.

You have nothing left to prove. No one doubts you. You are the greatest player the game has ever seen and you of all people know that. The attention is great and why not relish in the fact that the mere one in 1,000 chance that you could come back stirs so many basketball fans up?

If you really want to come back though, do it already. Stay off my television screen, out of the sports section of my newspaper and away from all of cyberspace.

Yes, this column is contributing to the problem, but maybe I can present a possibility that would save us all some trouble.

Mario Lemieux went back to Pittsburgh, but you know that Jordan can't head back to the Windy City because they are rightfully building, albeit very slowly, for the future. Quite obviously, Washington is a distinct possibility, but I had always thought Vancouver would be perfect.

Vancouver is a gorgeous city where you can hit the beach and the slopes in the very same afternoon. But besides its relative proximity to Portland and Seattle, it is a relative outpost of the National Basketball Association.

The only problem is that the franchise is set to relocate as the Kentucky Colonels to play in an arena known as the KFC Bucket. And if that wasn't bad enough, they are ruining one last chance at my glorious dream. It can be yours too, Michael

If people consider Vancouver an outpost of the NBA, the management of the Grizzlies can't fill the seats, and players really don't like traveling all the way there for a game, then let's really make it an outpost of the NBA.

The Grizzlies could dump some of their young talent and Michael sells his share of the Wizards to a buddy to hold onto for a few years. Does the former make sense for a team that is going to relocate and rebuild their franchise? No. But let's refill that team with Michael Jordan himself at guard as a player-coach and the inimitable Charles Barkley at forward. Vancouver, if you want to fill seats, there will be plenty more butts in plastic chairs if it is Charles Barkley rocking the rim instead of Bryant Reeves.

Don't stop there though. Karl Malone and John Stockton will go down in history as two of the greatest players ever, but the fact remains that as time ticks on, they may never win a championship in Utah. The duo love Utah and the Jazz organization, but I bet they would jump at the chance to win a title with Michael and Charles.

Why not literally rename the team the "Outposts?" Everyone loves an underdog, and the marketing possibilities are boundless for a team that everyone thinks is too old and too slow, but somehow prove that fundamentals reign supreme over the new breed of high-flying basketball that has penetrated and denigrated the game of roundball.

Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller spent years beating each other up only to allow Michael to have the last laugh time and time again. Maybe Michael could help them all laugh together one last time and give these aging warriors their rings.

Chris Mullin could certainly can a few more trifectas for the squad. I bet you could even interest Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning.

The list could go on and on. I bet hundreds of guys would knock on Michael's door in Vancouver looking for one more shot and while I don't think Bill Walton should grab a locker anytime soon, the team he could construct would be not only competitive, but also entertaining.

People around the world would tune in for Grizzlies games, imagine that! A day when Kings-Grizzlies meant throwing in a tape as opposed to channel surfing.

And best of all, no one has to sit through any games in the KFC Bucket, let alone listen to the painful radio and television references about how a player got his hand caught in the mashed potatoes after a foul call or how he couldn't hang on to the basketball because his hands looked a little greasy on the play.

Oh yes, and Michael, you get to play with all of your old buddies and probably get your hands on some more hardware.

I can even see him now. If Michael ever got his hands on this column, he'd get that huge grin on his face that graces so many magazines and newspapers. The one that says he knows something that you don't. The "I've got it" grin.

You know why? Because I think he likes his chances.

And you know what? I like them too.