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Thursday, June 5, 1997

Irvin says love of game missing,
weighs retirement from Cowboys

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AP Sports Writer
FARMERS BRANCH, June 5 -- Michael Irvin sat with his arms folded on a
table, his body slumped over. He wasn't decked out in flashy clothes,
his glasses weren't tinted and his only jewelry was a simple diamond
stud earring. His usually boisterous voice was practically monotone.

His message, however, was as attention-grabbing as ever.

Irvin said Wednesday he's considering retiring from football because he
no longer loves the game, and that he's joining teammate Erik Williams
in two lawsuits stemming from fake rape allegations against them.

The former All-Pro receiver said he's been thinking about shaking up his
career since January. He told Cowboys owner Jerry Jones he'd like to be
traded, but Jones said he couldn't because of the salary cap.

That leaves Irvin with two choices: walking away from the team and about
$5.5 million in salary, or returning to seek a fourth Super Bowl.

``I honestly don't know exactly what I'm going to do,'' Irvin said. ``I
am not the most talented person in the world. I played my game with
intensity and with emotion and that made the difference in my ability to
play. Right now, I just don't have that intensity and emotion about the
game. I don't have that love that I used to have about the game.''

When Irvin didn't show up for the beginning of quarterback school Monday
-- after he also missed a minicamp in April -- teammates Troy Aikman and
Emmitt Smith said they want to know what Irvin's plans are.

``As soon as I know, they'll know,'' Irvin said. ``I understand what
they're saying, but I don't think they understand the whole situation. I
don't feel I'm any good to myself right now. I would be more of a
hindrance than a help.''

Irvin has tried avoiding the spotlight since former topless dancer Nina
Shahravan recanted a rape allegation against him and Williams in
January. Shahravan faces trial next month on a perjury charge.

Williams filed a federal lawsuit accusing Dallas police of violating his
civil rights and a state case charging that he was defamed by TV station
KXAS, which first reported the story, and one of its reporters.

On Wednesday, attorney Peter Ginsberg said Irvin will join the lawsuits,
both of which seek unspecified damages.

``The station is obviously disappointed that Mr. Irvin would put his
reputation at issue in this way,'' said Chip Babcock, an attorney for
KXAS. ``We will vigorously defend ourselves in the case and will pursue
the case aggressively.''

City attorney Sam Lindsay could not immediately be reached for comment.

Irvin said he ``truly didn't want to get involved,'' but decided he had
to after it was reported he was avoiding a subpoena, something he said
was completely false.

Irvin said he should've spoken up sooner about the subpoena issue, and
vowed to respond more quickly when other situations come up.

``I would hope I could go on and live my life and not answer to
everybody all the time about what's going on, but I know that's not my
reality anymore,'' Irvin said.

``What I want to do is get the truth out about everything. I've kind of
been saying, `OK, I'll move on, maybe it'll blow over.' It hasn't and
don't seem like it ever will.''

Irvin's life took a turn for the worse about 15 months ago when a police
raid of a motel room found him and a friend with two topless dancers and

The receiver later pleaded no contest to a felony cocaine possession
charge and is serving 800 hours of community service as part of his
probation. He also was fined $10,000, and the NFL suspended him for five
games last season.

Irvin said Wednesday he's still performing the community service,
meeting weekly with his probation officer and a psychologist, and
undergoing up to five drug tests a week from the NFL. He and wife Sandy
also recently had a son -- Michael Jerome Irvin Jr.

``All I really wanted is to go back and find my life,'' Irvin said. ``I
wanted to go back and find that happy man who played the game with the
intensity and emotions I had. It's been truly hard to find.'' (Copyright 1997 by The Associated Press)

Jordan pours in 38, Bulls score easy win

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AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO, June 5 -- Michael Jordan might have played his last game in
Chicago. If so, he picked a great way to go.

He scored 38 points. He grabbed 13 rebounds. He dished out nine assists.
He had two steals as part of a defense that stifled the Utah Jazz. He
had another in a long line of ``I can't believe he did that!'' moves. He
again upstaged an embarrassed Karl Malone.

Most importantly, Jordan led the Bulls to a 97-85 victory Wednesday
night, giving them a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

``Every time he got the ball, he was looking to score,'' Utah's Shandon
Anderson said. ``He seemed like he was on some sort of mission.''

He is.

Just two more victories and Jordan will have carried the Bulls to their
fifth championship in seven years. Games 3 and 4 are Friday and Sunday
in Salt Lake City, which also will be the site of Game 5 if the Jazz can
win one of the next two.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan said his team has no chance of returning to
Chicago for Game 6 if it keeps playing as it did Wednesday night.

``I thought we were intimidated right from the beginning,'' he said.
``We have to think about how important it is for us to compete ... and
not let someone destroy our will to win.''

Jordan's Game 1 buzzer-beater seemed to carry over to Game 2, and he's
confident there will be another carryover to Friday night.

``We have great momentum,'' he said. ``I hope we can maintain that in
Utah, and take the crowd out of the game. We've been a great road team,
and I anticipate that happening once again.''

If Chicago wraps it up in Utah, the questions about the Bulls' future --
which surfaced occasionally during the season before grabbing most of
the headlines the last few days -- will really start being asked.

Will coach Phil Jackson return? If not, will the 34-year-old Jordan make
good on his threat to retire, even if he is offered an obscene salary to

Was Wednesday the last Chicago flight of Air Jordan?

``I haven't really looked at it in that sense,'' Jordan said. ``I'd like
for us to win two out of the next three and deal with whatever the
consequences may be. No one knows, not even Michael Jordan. Hopefully,
it's the last game this season, but not in future years.''

Whether fans never get to see him again at the United Center or whether
they have to wait only nine days for his return, Jordan gave them
something to remember him by.

He had nine points and three assists, figuring in every Chicago basket,
during a 17-10 first-quarter burst that put the Bulls in command. He
scored his 14th and 15th points on his eighth rebound midway through the
second quarter, when Utah tied a finals record for futility with only 11
points as Chicago took a 47-31 halftime lead.

``When Michael has those outbursts early,'' teammate Steve Kerr said,
``you know it is going to be a long night for the other team.''

At that point, however, Jordan was only warming up.

He brought the crowd to its feet in the third quarter with a vintage
Jordan move -- driving past Anderson, gliding past Adam Keefe, taking
off under the basket, dipping under Malone, switching the ball from his
right hand to his left, and scoring softly off the backboard. All the
while, his tongue was hanging out of his mouth -- his signature pose.

``I've seen it so many times,'' teammate Scottie Pippen said. ``I think
he's got everything in him that he's always had. It's just that he has
much more knowledge for the game, he doesn't have to pull those type of
stunts anymore.''

Jordan got plenty of help from his teammates, especially on defense. Ron
Harper made life miserable for Utah point guard John Stockton, who
missed eight of his 12 shots. Luc Longley, Brian Williams and Dennis
Rodman held Malone to 20 points on 6-for-20 shooting.

Jordan missed a triple-double only because Pippen missed a layup and two
jumpers after getting passes from Jordan. Pippen, Jordan's best friend
on the team, has been playing despite a very sore left foot.

``He apologized,'' Jordan said. ``But I'd rather have a healthy Scottie
Pippen than a triple-double. He's playing with a courageous attitude.''

Malone wouldn't say the same about himself after again showing that he
probably didn't deserve to beat out Jordan for MVP honors.

``We just got waxed,'' Malone said. ``I think my teammates feed off the
things I do. When I don't bring a lot of energy ... it seems like as a
team, we don't. I'm just stinking it up right now. It was

Utah now faces the daunting task of beating the Bulls four times in five
games. The last time Jordan went through a 1-4 stretch was in January

In addition, the Bulls are 9-0 after taking 2-0 leads in best-of-7
series, while the Jazz are 0-5 when falling into 0-2 holes.

Should everybody simply say the Jazz have no chance?

``Why should they write us off? That's my question,'' Utah's Antoine
Carr said. ``I don't think there's a reason to write us off.''

Actually, there are quite a few.

And led by Michael Jordan, they're all wearing Bulls red and black.

(Copyright 1997 by The Associated Press)

State and Regional Sports Pages--San Angelo Standard-Times

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