WASHINGTON -- Given the physical setbacks he suffered over the summer, it seemed rather ambitious when Michael Jordan said he planned to play every game this season. That plan already is in jeopardy.
After just 16 games, Jordan can barely practice and was dominated down the stretch Saturday night by Orlando's Tracy McGrady. Jordan's right wrist and both knees have been ailing, but it is soreness and swelling in the right knee that prompted him to schedule an appointment Sunday with a doctor in Chicago.
"I just developed some fluid on my knee, and I think it's about time to pay attention to it so it won't linger all season long," Jordan said. "I don't think it's going to be something that's going to linger. I have to make sure there's no ligament damage, and get it treated, get it drained and see what the doctors say I have to do and see if I can get rid of it."
Jordan has already had the knee drained once this season. He last missed a game due to injury on March 5, 1993, against San Antonio, the second of two games he missed while hospitalized with a foot infection.
The Wizards next opponent: San Antonio again. A four-game road trip starts Tuesday, and Jordan said he might have to sit out a game or two if the Wizards team doctor and the doctor in Chicago agree that it's for the best.
"It's early in the season. I don't want to. I'd rather continue to play," Jordan said. "But if it's not going to get any better other than me sitting out - long-term, I want to play later in the season."
Jordan scored a season-low 15 points in Saturday night's 96-87 loss to Orlando. Matched one-on-one against McGrady, Jordan was 2-for-12 in the second half, missed all four shots he took in the fourth quarter and was taken out by coach Doug Collins with 3:50 to play and the Wizards trailing by 13.
"He would have played until the end of the game no matter what, because he doesn't want to make it look like he's walking away from a player," Collins said. "But I saw him stop a couple of times, just shoot his jump shot, and it's almost like he didn't put the leg down. I said to the coaches, 'That's it."'
McGrady scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half in a much-anticipated matchup between Jordan and one of the "young dogs" he said would be chasing him this season. Jordan also missed a few minutes in the first half when his eye was poked while grabbing a rebound.
"I got poked in the eye and my knee's a little sore. Is that why he took it easy on me?" Jordan said. "Obviously I felt it on my lift on my shot more than anything, and I did whatever I could to contain him in the second half."
Collins said Jordan had scheduled the trip to Chicago before Saturday's game, the Wizards' fourth in five nights. The injury is not only hampering Jordan's performance, it's slowing the development of the team chemistry that needs to develop as the young Washington players try to learn to play with the returning superstar.
"Michael can't go through a full practice," Collins said. "They don't get much practice time with MJ. We've got to keep him fresh for the game. I can't ask Michael to go through a 1 1/2 -hour practice and ask him to play 35 minutes."
The rigors of an NBA schedule on Jordan's 38-year-old body always seemed the biggest obstacle in his second comeback. He was slowed by back spasms, two cracked ribs and knee tendinitis in workouts to get in shape over the summer. Nevertheless, he said he planned to play all 82 regular season games when he announced his return.
Any decision to sit will be made by Jordan and the doctors. Collins said he would never make the suggestion himself.
"I'd never say that to Michael," Collins said. "Michael taught me a long time ago, 'Never keep a thoroughbred from running.' Because at some point and time if you do, they won't want to run."
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