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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 14:23 GMT
Jordan to go out on a high
By Andrew McKenzie

Michael Jordan in action for the Washington Wizards
Jordan is tipped to make the play-offs with the Wizards

John Amaechi has tipped Michael Jordan to end his career on a high by leading the Washington Wizards to the play-offs.

Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest player of all-time, turned 40 on Monday and has vowed to retire from the game for a third time at the end of the season.

But Utah Jazz forward/centre Amaechi, the only Englishman in the NBA, said the Wizards star has one last trick up his sleeve.

He has come back and proved people wrong when they said he wouldn't be able to play at this age
John Amaechi

"I think they'll definitely make the playoffs," Amaechi told the BBC Sport website.

"He's one of those players that when it gets towards playoff time he generally gets better.

"I would be fairly sure that you are looking at him stepping up his game."

Jordan's Wizards side are occupying the final play-off spot in the Eastern Conference.

And the former Chicago Bulls star has set his goal to lead the club to the post-season for only the second time in 15 years.

Amaechi came face-to-face with Jordan on Friday when the Wizards came to town in what is likely to be his last visit to the Delta Center, scene of two of his finest performances.

John Amaechi of the Utah Jazz
Amaechi is still a huge fan of Jordan

In the 1997 NBA Finals he battled flu to score 38 points and lead the Bulls to a vital win, before returning the following year to hit the winning shot and earn a sixth title.

His final appearance was not so notable as his Wizards side were thumped 109-77, but Amaechi has no doubts he remains a major player in the NBA.

"He's still an All-Star and a premier player," he said. "He's averaging 28 points over his last 10 games so he's doing a tremendous job, but he had no help at all on Friday.

"We played him earlier in the season in Washington and he scored 30 points on us.

The fans go crazy, and there is always a surge when he comes out on the floor
John Amaechi

"He has come back and proved people wrong when they said he wouldn't be able to play at this age."

Even in the closing stages of a remarkable career Jordan remains the number one draw in the game.

Amaechi saw first hand how popular Jordan is in Salt Lake City.

"The thing with Jordan is he is an NBA star as opposed to a team star," Amaechi added. "Even though the fans want their own team to beat Washington they still want to see Michael play well.

"Every time he scores they clap, every time he catches the ball there is an air of anticipation.

"We just sat on the bench and treated it as an away game."

John Amaechi is Britain's most successful basketballer. He will be writing a monthly column about life in the NBA for the BBC Sport website.





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