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Jordan rips teammates' poor effort
WASHINGTON -- Michael Jordan is upset with his teammates. Twice in three days, he's accused them of not making the extra effort to get him to the playoffs one last time.
It's an amazing accusation. Surely these guys would jump through fire to see one of the all-time greats go out on top.
Not so, thinks Jordan, who says his self-recruited Washington Wizards twentysomethings don't match the desire of a 40-year-old man when it comes to "diving for loose balls, busting his chin and doing everything he can to get his team into the playoffs."
"It's not reciprocated from the other players on the team," Jordan said after scoring an under-supported 39 points in Sunday's 97-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
The obvious question is why. Other than an occasional moment of inspiration -- such as when Larry Hughes worked double-time to recover from an injury because Jordan did the same -- why hasn't the Jordan intensity and work ethic permeated a team starving for success?
The most obvious answer lies in the awkward relationship Jordan has with the players. He's not only a superstar with a magnified presence, but also runs the team and will return to the front office next season.
As a result, he has teammates who admire and respect him, but they've never really bonded with him. Without that, there's less of an instinct to fight for him at crunch time.