The NBA fined Michael Jordan $5,000 Thursday for wearing white sneakers while his teammates wore black ones Wednesday night, and hit the Chicago Bulls for $25,000 for letting him change uniform numbers from 45 to 23.
Jordan didn’t comment, but the Bulls say he intends to continue wearing No. 23, his original number with the team. That number was retired when Jordan retired two years ago and took up baseball. He had worn No. 45 since his midseason return to basketball. No word yet on his shoe plans.
The Bulls, contending there is no rule against changing numbers, say they’ve done nothing wrong.
“We’ll support Michael Jordan,” General Manager Jerry Krause said before the fines were announced. “I don’t know what the league can do.”
The NBA, calling it a matter of “policy,” showed Krause what it could do.
Said Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik in a prepared statement: “If the team continues to permit him to appear (with) a number other than 45, in violation of league policy, the matter will be dealt with in an appropriate manner at the end of the season.”
Actually, the Bulls were as surprised as anyone when Jordan switched numbers before the playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The only man in the organization who knew about it was the man who suggested it--equipment manager Pete Ligmanowski.
"(Jordan) is really adamant about wearing that number (23),” Coach Phil Jackson said. “I think he was responding to the comment he wasn’t the same old 23. I think that was his response: ‘OK, check this out.’ ”
The Bulls play the Magic here tonight in Game 3. The league office will be checking it out.