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Jordan Hysteria?

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Michael Jordan’s return seems to have caused a frenzy in some cities. But not in Los Angeles, a city that already has its share of NBA superstars.

There was one person at the Staples Center ticket windows at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Ron Cohen, 54, of Westlake Village, was there to pick up his King season tickets.

“I can’t stand basketball,” Cohen said.

A woman behind the ticket window named Becky said maybe a dozen or so people all day had asked about buying tickets to see Jordan.

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She told them all the same thing: Single-game tickets for the Lakers and Clippers don’t go on sale until Oct. 6.

The Lakers play host to Jordan and the Washington Wizards on Feb. 12. The Clippers and Wizards play at Staples Center on March 13.

Tickets to those games might be hard to come by. The Lakers won’t have any more than 2,000 to 3,000 tickets available. Season-ticket holders have the rest. And the Clippers may have even fewer available because their game with the Wizards was part of special 20-game and 11-game ticket packages.

“That game was a virtual sellout prior to Michael’s announcement,” said Joe Safety, the Clippers’ vice president of communications. “We did experience a robust reaction over the past two days on both the packages and there are a few seats left for that game.”

At the Team LA store at Staples Center, a sales clerk said no one had inquired about Jordan apparel. “He’s old stuff,” said the clerk.

But at the Pro Image at Santa Anita Fashion Park in Arcadia, owner Eddie Rivas said there had been a few inquiries about Jordan’s Wizard jerseys.

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“We put in an order for Jordan jerseys in May,” Rivas said. “It’s called an ‘if/when’ order. The minute Jordan announced he is coming back, they started cranking out those jerseys. We should have our order in two to four weeks.”

Potential customers who visited the NBA Store in Manhattan on Wednesday in search of Jordan merchandise were disappointed to find none.

There was no indication that he has returned to the league. In fact, his photograph was included in a montage in the storefront window featuring former NBA stars such as Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

A manager, who did not want to be identified, said she couldn’t comment on Jordan.

A customer, Nicole Andrews from New York, asked a clerk, “Do you know what number Jordan is going to wear when he comes back with the Warriors?”

“Wizards,” he said, correcting her.

The clerk said merchandise would be available next week.

She asked about the price of a jersey.

He told her $150.

“It’s for my boyfriend,” she said. “That’s pretty pricey for me.”

According to Bloomberg News, a few people were waiting outside for the store to open Wednesday morning. Italo Principe of New Jersey was angry when he left.

“They don’t have them--nothing,” he said. “And they don’t know when they will.”

Elsewhere, the Associated Press reported phone lines were ringing off the hook at stores in Seattle and Boston. In Chicago, there was new interest in Bulls’ season tickets.

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And at Jordan’s new home court, MCI Center in Washington, people who thought they would never pay money to watch the Wizards play lined up for seats.

“Did you think I was going to buy tickets to see [Kwame] Brown and [Richard] Hamilton play? No way,” lawyer I. Hope Umana said before paying more than $2,000 for two season tickets. There was a brief wait at a booth that sold only season tickets. Wizard spokesman Matt Williams said that was because most season-ticket sales were done over the phone.

Williams said as of Wednesday, 1,000 new season-ticket packages were sold since Jordan’s announcement. That boosts the number of total season-ticket plans sold to 13,000, surpassing the previous high of 12,000 set in 1997, when MCI Center opened.

In Boston, individual game tickets for the Wizards’ two visits to FleetCenter have sold out. The Celtics limited the number of tickets for Wizard games to four per person.

Mike Golub, senior vice president of business operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, said the phones had been ringing since Jordan’s announcement.

“When the news broke, the business probably tripled and today is our best sales day,” Golub said. “This will be a slam-dunk sellout.”

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In Chicago, fans marked Jan. 19 and March 1 on their calendars. Those are the days when Jordan and the Wizards visit the Bulls.

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Times staff writer Sam Farmer, reporting from New York, contributed to this story.

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