Bulls Play It Casual about Reinsdorf's Rhetoric

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Byline: Kent McDill Daily Herald Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Michael Jordan was asked questions about Phil Jackson Friday he wanted to answer but couldn't.

Reporters at the Bulls' shootaround Friday morning in advance of Game 3 of the Eastern conference semifinal series with the Charlotte Hornets wanted to know why, after Jordan had spent the last six months believing Bulls management will break up the team, everyone is now supposed to believe Jackson is the catalyst and the one who has decided to leave?

"That's a good question," Jordan said. "I think we all have to question that. To respond to that takes a little more time, and I don't have time to think about it."

But if the latest explanation offered by Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is indeed accurate - that management doesn't want to split up this team and that Jackson isn't being pushed out the door - wouldn't Reinsdorf eventually have told Jordan to stop complaining, and that management had nothing to do with Jackson's decision to leave?

"I like the way you think," Jordan said with a laugh, ending the interview session.

The questions came up as a result of remarks made by Reinsdorf that were published Friday. Because Jordan has said he won't play for a coach other than Jackson, that makes Jackson responsible for breaking up the dynasty, if in fact it does split up at season's end.

Reinsdorf also said he would be "inclined" to invite everyone back next season if the Bulls win this season's championship.

Jackson, mobbed by reporters at the morning practice, was asked who is responsible for making this his last season as coach of the Bulls, if in fact it is.

"Everybody takes part in it," Jackson said. "What we are saying is this thing is not done until it is done. My intention, and it has been the intention of the organization, is this is the last year with this group of guys. But when it gets to the playoffs it is going to get harder and harder to say goodbye to this team.

"It all sounds like lawyerspeak to me. Jerry Reinsdorf says if we win a championship he would want us back, but we are not there yet."

Jackson said he is still leaning toward taking some time off in Montana, but said the entire conversation is moot if the Bulls don't win the championship. …