MEDIA WATCH: Jordan's second comeback met with mixed reviews frommedia

Michael Jordan is universally acknowledged as the best basketball

player ever. Some even say he's the best athlete ever. The media gave

major attention to last month's announcement that he'd signed a two-year

contract with the Washington Wizards, and will give up his earnings to

the September 11 disaster relief.



Like an ESPN highlight reel, coverage frequently recounted his glories,

topped by five regular-season MVP trophies, six NBA championships, and

10 scoring titles in 11 full seasons of play.



But it wasn't all star-struck accolades from the media. The coverage of

his second comeback was perhaps a bit more sober, as sports journalists

noted that Jordan, 38, has been retired for three years and has been

struggling during his workouts - breaking two ribs in a scrimmage

earlier this year while also struggling from keen tendonitis and back

spasms.



Among both supporters and critics of Jordan's return, there was a

consensus that he wouldn't be able to play at his former skill level.

Among those who voiced their belief that Jordan wouldn't be 100% was his

good friend Charles Barkley, who said, "(People) will expect him to play

like Michael Jordan, and he can't do that," (Miami Herald, September

26). Even so, there were a number of comments to the effect that Jordan

at 75%-80% of his past level would still be among the best players in

the league.



Journalists also pointed out that the league has changed in the time

Jordan has been gone. The league is now dominated by a new generation of

younger stars such as Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and

Vince Carter. NBA officials and broadcasters tried to use this to create

hype for the showdown that the season will feature when Jordan takes on

these new stars.



"The half-dozen or dozen stars out there today have all been measured

against this mythical figure who has been retired. He's not retired

anymore. The world will see just how talented these guys are. This will

bring excitement to the game," said Turner Sports president Mark Lazarus

(Hollywood Reporter, September 26). Both Turner Sports and NBC were said

to already be scrambling to rearrange their schedules so they could

broadcast more Wizards games.



Jordan's return was described as beneficial to a number of parties - the

NBA, the networks, his sponsors, and, most of all, the Wizards

themselves.



Although the Wizards were usually panned as a bunch of losers who

managed to win just 19 games last year, season ticket sales were soaring

in the wake of Jordan's announcement.



Tickets were also selling quickly in other cities for the Wizards away

games.



Sports Illustrated (October 1) wrote that Jordan's return would be good

for the NBA, despite the fact that the league has been "fighting a PR

battle of the first order, trying to convince skeptical fans that the

young stars of today could carry the league as the Larry-Magic-Michael

triumvirate did."



Of course, there was debate about whether Jordan might tarnish his

legacy by returning to a team that in all likelihood will be challenged

to reach the playoffs. But there was more support than criticism. Jordan

had given so much to fans around the world, that asking him to stay away

from the game he loves seems selfish. He should do what he enjoys, and

more power to him.



- Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be

found at www.carma.com.



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