- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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Editor's note: As part of "The Stein Line" every Monday, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein gives his take on things in "Slams and Dunks."
If Jerry Stackhouse was the primary target of Michael Jordan's loud critique Sunday night, MJ is bang out of order. Jordan wouldn't look as good as he does now, fresher at 40 than he looked at this time last season, if Stack wasn't carrying the load for MJ in the first half of the season. Don't forget, furthermore, that Stackhouse has also played hurt at times this season, just like Mike.
His Airness is obviously frustrated that the playoffs are slipping away, but that's not Stack's fault. The Wizards have been trying to get by with a patchwork frontcourt all season (Brendan Haywood, Christian Laettner, Charles Oakley and young Kwame Brown) and the two teams they're jostling with for No. 8 in the East (Orlando and Milwaukee) just made significant personnel upgrades. That's why.
The positive from Sunday's diatribe came when Jordan said that "...some of these guys may not be here next year when I go back upstairs." That's the strongest statement yet from Jordan that he will return to his post as Wizards team president, which is what has to happen for the good of the franchise. I don't buy the argument that Jordan's comeback has set the franchise back, but I would buy it if any of these rumblings are true about Jordan joining Charlotte's expansion franchise.
You can certainly make the argument that Dennis Johnson has no chance to impress as Clippers interim coach when he's handed the team with 24 games to play ... and with Elton Brand and Michael Olowokandi out ... and with Lamar Odom playing at half-speed ... and with no real practice time to prepare for an introductory six-game road trip.
Then again ...
If the Clips decide to keep Johnson after owner Donald T. Sterling insults all the big-name coaches with low offers, all of the above factors will be used to justify keeping DJ no matter what L.A.'s record shows in those final 24 games.
Besides the fact that he is already working on a Sterlingesque salary, Johnson is also helped by the fact that he's a recognizable name from championship stock. The latter qualification makes Lakers alumnus Michael Cooper another likely candidate for the full-time job, since Cooper -- coming from the WNBA -- wouldn't be able to command dollars in the Jeff Van Gundy/Mike Dunleavy stratosphere.
Question to the Cavs: At a time when you're trying to convince people you're not throwing games intentionally, why was last week when you decided to move Ricky Davis to the bench for three games?
Tell us it's the custom in his homeland. Tell us it's for marketing purposes. But I plead with my media brethren: Don't tell us Denver's Nene Hilario wants to be known as Nene on all references because that's how Pele did it. Please.
Here at the Stein Line, we have been unabashed Nene fans since the draft. We're on record, back in June, as saying the Knicks could well come to regret trading the big Brazilian for Antonio McDyess.
There is and will always be only one Pele. Even Nene would tell you it's sacrilege to suggest he's copying the athlete who was Jordan before there was a Jordan.
He merely wants to put Nene on the back of his jersey because Brazilian sports stars often go by one name, which would make his jerseys easier to sell back home. OK?
Michael Jordan has reason to be mad, but he shouldn't be blowing his stack at Jerry Stackhouse.