Reinsdorf Slick, but 23 in Driver's Seat

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Imrem

Michael Jordan's contract talks can officially begin today, and it'll be interesting to see how Jerry Reinsdorf approaches them.

Normally, Reinsdorf is the one person you want with you while shopping for a luxury item. You know, the one guy prepared to walk out the showroom door without the automobile of his dreams if the deal doesn't feel right.

That's how Reinsdorf operates the Bulls and White Sox. There isn't anybody he absolutely needs, anybody he can't discard.

Emotions have little to do with it; business has everything to do with it.

All makes and models - a Cadillac, a Horace Grant, a Taurus, a Jack McDowell, a Winnebago, a Doug Collins - are treated the same.

If the price, terms and feel don't fit, Reinsdorf has no trouble saying "no thanks," turning around and walking away.

Or more precisely, sending the other party in that direction.

Just a couple weeks ago Reinsdorf was ready to live without a brand-spanking-new, 1996 model Phil Jackson, fully equipped with four NBA championships and the admiration of Bulls players.

Reinsdorf reportedly had Jerry Krause out kicking the tires of Jackson's coaching lessers in both the collegiate and professional ranks.

Jackson was merely another replaceable part like Jeff Torborg, a planned obsolescence like Gene Lamont, a loaner like Julio Franco.

Reinsdorf has let go or allowed to go many successful employees, and the Bulls and Sox have continued to win without them. He must assume now that no one is indispensable.

Which brings us to today, and to the Michael Jordan negotiations.

Across the table will be two men of considerable ego, two great competitors, two winners who hate to lose at anything.

Both have expressed optimism that their talks will be civil, respectful and amicable.

This is business, however. Reinsdorf and Jordan each will be trying to negotiate the best possible deal for himself. …