Byline: Mike Imrem
Michael Jordan is funny like this.
Funny unlike Dennis Rodman.
Jordan has this uncanny ability to attract attention without slapping on mascara and lipstick.
He can make headlines by crossover dribbling instead of crossover dressing.
He can draw oohs by scoring on the court with a variety of shots rather than aahs off it by scoring with a variety of ... well, you know.
Despite an ailing back that was only as bad as Jordan wanted it to be, he took over Sunday's Game 1 of the NBA East semifinal playoffs.
The Bulls' thoroughbred looked from the start like Grindstone did down the stretch Saturday, all frisky and aggressive and athletic.
"I didn't wanta come out looking hurt," Jordan said. "If they see you bleed, they're going to look for more blood."
He was talking about the New York Knicks - who else? - a team that never has needed an excuse to take the body.
The Knicks played it relatively straight this time, and Jordan played it relatively spectacular with 44 points during a 91-84 victory.
As usual the issue arose as to whether Jordan needed to score that much or just wanted to.
Did the Bulls' offense become sporadic because Jordan was so dominant, or did Jordan become so dominant because the Bulls' offense was so sporadic?
The questions are as old as any involving Adam and Eve, the chicken and the egg, or Dennis Rodman and the feather boa.
Whatever, Jordan clearly came onto the court to make a statement Sunday, and when he does that the punctuation usually is an exclamation mark.
"I was going to come out," Jordan said, "and take the focus away from my back."
And maybe away from Rodman as well.
Jordan never has liked being less than the main man in the minds of anybody for any reason.
How many times has a teammate been headed for a 30-point game and suddenly seen Jordan zoom past him on the way to 35?
As incurably intense a competitor as Jordan is, he's going to be the best at everything with the most of everything - points, championships and attention.
So maybe it was coincidence that after a week of Rodman's new book being front-page news, Jordan scored the Bulls' first 5 points, 15 of their 25 in the first quarter and nearly half of their game total. …