Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jordan Readies Playoff Express Bulls Hope No. 5 Seed Will Sprout

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jordan Readies Playoff Express Bulls Hope No. 5 Seed Will Sprout

Article excerpt

Michael Jordan always seems to rush to the rescue.

He finally won Dean Smith a national title at North Carolina. He carried the Chicago Bulls to three National Basketball Association titles by hitting every shot that mattered. He saved Olympic basketball from oblivion. He even tried to give baseball a new lease on life. But it didn't deserve him.

Now, Jordan has dropped back into the NBA in time to save us from another title series featuring the Knicks.

It isn't as easy as all that, of course. How well Jordan's magic works after a year and a half of whiffing at curveballs is a mystery. But it's the mystery that will keep us riveted on the NBA playoffs, which started Thursday.

Jordan's return is like dropping a truck into a placid lake. Order is replaced by chaos. Suddenly, a No. 5 seed holds all the cards.

"You had in your mind that here we had a real chance," Knicks coach Pat Riley said. "Then this guy comes in who himself can beat you."

The Bulls are seeded lower than their first-round opponent, No. 4 seed Charlotte, but they're favored.

They are in line to play top-seed Orlando Magic next. If the Bulls advance, then they probably would meet the Knicks in the conference finals.

This is virtually the same Knicks team that Jordan repeatedly foiled in the playoffs. You could say the Bulls foiled them, but that would be wrong. After Jordan left the Bulls for his quasi-retirement, the Knicks beat the Bulls in the '94 playoffs.

The Knicks are part of the psychic wreckage in the wake of Jordan's three NBA titles. So are the Cavaliers, Phoenix and Portland.

"Let's face it, he knows exactly what to do," said Johnny Bach, a former Chicago assistant now with the Hornets. "He's been ordained somehow to come up with the shot or the big play to win the game."

Jordan's confidence makes him one of the best clutch players in the history of sports. …

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