O'Koren Steps in for Ailing Jordan

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 28, 2004 | Go to article overview

O'Koren Steps in for Ailing Jordan


Byline: John N. Mitchell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

PHILADELPHIA - When Washington Wizards assistant Mike O'Koren called coach Eddie Jordan early yesterday morning, he expected to have a conversation mostly centered on the blood clot discovered in Jordan's left leg Thursday morning.

Wrong.

Yes, pleasantries were exchanged, but the subject Jordan wanted to talk about most from his hospital bed was the team's game today in Toronto.

"He's nuts," O'Koren joked following the team's practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I'm asking him about how he's doing and he's telling me to run certain sets. It's funny. He knows he's all right now, I guess, so he wants to talk basketball. I told him to get better, and then we can talk basketball."

Jordan, who is expected to leave a Washington hospital this week and return to the bench for Wednesday's home game against New Jersey, listened to the Wizards' 116-114 overtime loss to Philadelphia on the radio Friday. Yesterday, he was scheduled to receive the videotape of the game.

As much as Jordan would like to speed his return, he is out of commission until he receives medical clearance. Until then, O'Koren, Jordan's longtime friend and one-time teammate with the Nets, is the guy the Wizards will look to for direction.

O'Koren played at North Carolina for Dean Smith, the winningest coach in major college basketball history. But O'Koren says it is what he learned with Jordan that will help him get through his stint as the Wizards' temporary top man.

"I played for a tremendous coach in Dean Smith and I remember some of the things he taught," O'Koren said. "But at this level I learned everything from Eddie. So I'm just trying to do what he would do. …

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