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Michael Jordan: For This Job, He'll Need Wizardry

In Business This Week: Headliner

Michael Jordan: For This Job, He'll Need Wizardry

Can Michael Jordan score from the manager's chair? On Jan. 19, almost a year to the day after retiring from pro basketball, the five-time MVP signed on as general manager and part-owner of the Washington Wizards.

It's a whole new ballgame for Jordan. After leading the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Assn. championships, he's used to winning. But the Wizards, 12-27 this season, have not made the playoffs since 1988 and have a hard time filling their D.C. arena.

Jordan faces challenges off-court as well. Sources close to the team say that he was wooed by part-owner Ted Leonsis, president of AOL Interactive Properties Group. But there's bad blood between Jordan's agent, David Falk, and Abe Pollin, majority owner of the Wizards, after the two clashed during last year's contract negotiations.

This is Jordan's second shot at an NBA team. A move on the Charlotte Hornets fell apart last year when owner George Shinn refused to cede control. How much control Pollin and Leonsis will give up remains to be seen.By Lorraine Woellert in Washington; Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

A Lid on "Bias" from the Fed

The Federal Reserve caught so much flack for confusing the markets with its release of "bias" statements after its Open Market Committee meetings that it's decided to scrap the practice. On Jan. 19, it announced that it will simply tell the markets where it thinks the economy is going: higher inflation, slower growth, or a balance between the two. While the Fed said it hopes to "enhance communications," it may really be trying to make investors more uncertain, not less, about the central bank's intentions. When the Fed announced its bias toward higher rates at various points in 1999, investors concluded--much to policymakers' chagrin--that a rate hike at the next meeting was certain. The new policy is designed to disabuse investors of such a notion and free the Fed's hands.Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

One-Man-Rule Is Over at Coke

Douglas Daft, the incoming chief executive of Coca-Cola, won't be repeating one mistake made by his predecessor, M. Douglas Ivester--not naming a top lieutenant. Even though Daft doesn't formally take the helm until April, on Jan. 18, he picked Jack Stahl, 46, to serve as his president and chief operating officer. Daft wants to signal that he won't attempt the same one-man act as Ivester, whose refusal to delegate angered key Coke directors and led to his resignation. Coke watchers hailed the Daft-Stahl team as a perfect complement: While Daft has international experience, Stahl oversaw the U.S., Coke's largest market.Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

And Now: Web-Sponsored Luge

Will sprinters at the next Olympics dash at Internet speed?, the job-hunting Web site, said on Jan. 19 that it will be a sponsor of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games and will be termed the "official career management service sponsor." The deal is valued at roughly $20 million, mostly on a cash basis, and will also include sponsorship of the 2002 and 2004 U.S. Olympic teams. Officials of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee say that other dot.coms are likely to sign on as sponsors.Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

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