NBA Commissioner David Stern said Michael Jordan's
retirement means, "We're going to have a mountain to climb
now, sure. We're just going to have to use stronger ropes,
I guess" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/13). In Philadelphia, Bob
Ford: "The NBA stumbled when Jordan took his baseball
sabbatical. Now it seems set to fall harder in his absence.
That Jordan would abandon the league in the hour it needs
him most -- with its very popularity on the line -- is
telling. Only Jordan could save this stunted season, and
you'd better believe he knows it" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
1/13). Rick Burton, Dir of the Univ. of OR's Warsaw Sports
Marketing Center, estimates that Jordan's departure "would
likely cost the league" $200M beyond the $1B it has already
lost due to a shortened season. Peter Roby, Reebok Int'l
VP/Consumer Marketing in North America: "I would have
suggested that the NBA is facing a big problem even if
Michael Jordan does come back. And now they are facing
coming back from a work stoppage without the greatest player
ever to play." Woolf Associates' COO Larry Moulter: "Even
though the league is supported by corporations that buy up a
lot of premium seating, the NBA must identify with the
middle class. And kids getting arrested with guns and
marijuana in their car just aren't going to sell it." The
Bonham Group President Dean Bonham: "I think the NBA should
take a very proactive tack and they ought to assemble a team
of stars they can push" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13). In N.Y.,
Wallace Matthews writes that Jordan's exit is "forcing the
NBA to start cleaning up" its image (N.Y. POST, 1/13).
A BIG HIT: MSG President Dave Checketts: "This guy is
probably the most recognized man in the world. To lose a
star like that is a big hit. However, it also means that it
provides a time now to have the young stars take a step up"
(N.Y. TIMES, 1/13). NBC's Bob Costas: "To many people,
Michael Jordan is the NBA and what happens to the NBA is
that it settles back into a lower level of popularity that
it may not approach ever again without Michael Jordan."
NBC's Katie Couric, to Tim Russert: "On the eve of the
president's impeachment trial in the Senate, everybody is
talking about Michael Jordan's retirement. What does that
say to you?" Russert: "It says everything about where
America's interest is this very morning, and that's MJ"
(NBC, 1/13). Jordan's retirement was the lead story on the
"CBS Evening News." Steiner Sports Marketing's Dave Smith:
"The NBA without Michael Jordan is in deep trouble. ... And
I think it's going to take a long time for them to recover."
CBS's Anthony Mason said that in losing Jordan, the NBA is
losing its "billion dollar man" ("CBS Evening News," 1/13).
WHO IS READY? Brandweek Editor Matthew Grimm: "Jordan's
retirement puts the spotlight on everybody else, and that's
not necessarily a good thing for the NBA right now. They
have quite a mountain to climb in terms of public
perception" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/13). Bob Williams,
President of Burns Sports Celebrity: "They have about two
months to make a collective effort with some of the league's
elite stars .. to pick up some of the slack" (PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, 1/13). In Chicago, Carol Slezak reports that
Lakers G Kobe Bryant is "ready" to be the NBA's "new
superstar" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/13). Bryant: "I feel
responsible, as a young player, to try to carry on the
tradition he and other players have developed." Pistons F
Grant Hill: "We're going to miss him. But the NBA is going
to be all right" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/13).
WE WILL SURVIVE, WE WILL GET BY: In Boston, Bob Ryan:
"If the NBA is to be salvaged, it must, must, must be bigger
than one man. ... The NBA has many long-range problems.
Having Jordan to promote and slobber over might provide a
pleasant distraction for the masses. ... He serves his
league best by leaving it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13). In N.Y.,
Peter Vecsey writes that Jordan's departure should be "no
problem" for the league. If some of the young stars "don't
catch attention of fans, then the NBA should take a page
from the NFL and market teams instead of individuals. ... I
say some other superhero will suddenly emerge" (N.Y. POST,
1/13). In Detroit, Mitch Albom writes, "Eventually, someone
else will come along -- or rather someone else will be made.
The shoe companies, the soft drinks, the fast-food products
and the NBA itself cannot resist the urge to find a
successor" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/13).
ONE MORE THING MISSING: Raptors President Richard
Peddie said Jordan's presence was worth C$500,000 a year to
his team in additional revenue (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/13).
SHAQ-DADDY: Lakers C Shaquille O'Neal, on Jordan:
"We're going to miss him and I can tell all my ten children
from nine different women that I played against the great
Michael Jordan" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/13).