Oh, to befriend Michael Jordan Ä or at least be his best obstacle

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

I had dreams, man. That's all I have to say.

But since I don't get paid for writing 10 words, I guess I should say a little more.

Sports editor Th‚oden Janes, photographer Randi Kirschner and I took a trip to Scottsdale a few weeks ago to interview Terry Francona, manager of the Arizona Fall League's Scottsdale Scorpions. Not to take anything away from Francona Ä he was more than accommodating, and a genuinely nice guy Ä but Th‚oden and I had ulterior motives: "Air" was in the air.

When we arrived at Scottsdale Stadium we made a beeline for the dugout. There he was, sitting and talking to someone. Michael Jordan, Scorpion outfielder, was a mere 10 feet from me. Then he got up. He walked toward me. But ... I was in his way! In a moment of quick-on-his-feet decision-making so often evident on the basketball court, Jordan faked to his right and then went around me. I made Michael Jordan go around me. Something to tell the grandkids.

Anyway, Th‚oden and I decided to proceed with what we had come for, to get Mike's autogra Ä I mean, to interview Terry Francona.

The interview went rather well, and afterward Th‚oden and I milled around on the field while Randi took pictures of Jordan. I had half a mind to streak across the field while she was shooting Jordan, just so I could be in the same frame as him. But I refrained, thinking that I'd probably be regarded as some crazed lunatic. And Th‚oden would've fired me. So we headed for the press box, leaving Randi to take her best shots at Michael. "Work with me, work with me," were the words I heard as I ascended the stairs.

The game could be described in two syllables: BOR-ING. As Th‚oden kept score, we rehearsed the "Wouldn't it be cool" routine.

"Wouldn't it be cool to talk to Jordan?" I said.

"Yeah," Th‚oden said.

"And then we all partied together and we could say we partied with Michael Jordan."

"Yeah," Th‚oden said. He's a man of few words.

During the game, we asked one of the public relations guys about talking to Jordan after the game. He said we could, as long as we asked him game questions only. I started to brainstorm questions. "How do you think you played tonight?" "How did you feel about scoring three runs?" But that got old. My brain wandered to other questions. "Could you sing 'Be Like Mike,' only change the words to 'Be Like Monty?'" Before I knew it, the game was over. Finally.

Th‚oden and I headed Ä OK, bolted Ä for the dugout. Randi was waiting. The PR guy finally showed, then, a moment of hesitation. He was waiting for us to ask. We were waiting for him to invite us.

Finally, Th‚oden said it: "What about Jordan?"

I knew the answer before he said it, before he told us that Jordan was in the shower and his family was waiting and that he just wanted to leave. I made a last-ditch effort.

"So we can't talk to him then?" He said no, of course.

I understood, but I was crushed. I went from dreams of "My Dinner with Michael" to "Jilted by Jordan." As we walked from Scottsdale Stadium, my mind processed just one thought.

Oh well, he still had to go around me.

"You may Survive" is a regular feature in which reporters take a little risk and brave unusual situations or commit acts that Wildcat readers may or may not want to take part of themselves.

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