Attention Michael Jordan fans: Da Bulls' preseason game against the Washington Bullets at the Florida Suncoast Dome is one day away and, yes, all indications are that his royal Airness _ and sidekick Scottie Pippen _ will be in the house.
But a bit of advice: Don't stand at the concession stands too long because chances are Jordan and Pippen, still resting from an off-season shortened by the Olympics, will play only a few minutes. Both have practiced sparingly during training camp (Jordan joined the team Thursday), and aren't even expected to start tonight when the team makes its preseason debut at home against Seattle.
"I know there's a lot of people counting on me to play the (nine) preseason games because of the financial situation," Jordan said. "I'm anticipating playing in all of them."
Said Pippen: "I haven't gotten myself as physically prepared as I normally do. Mentally, I wish I had another month left (in the off-season)."
Fans apparently are not alone in their concern over the preseason schedule of Jordan and Pippen. Bulls starting forward Horace Grant stormed out of camp Wednesday, saying it's unfair that Jordan and Pippen have been excused by Bulls coach Phil Jackson from participating in the team's two-a-day workouts. Then Thursday, Grant, who has charged the Bulls' organization with giving Jordan preferential treatment in past years, returned only to vent his feelings again, this time to reporters.
Despite the rift, Grant still is expected to be in uniform Saturday at the Dome, but he'll be one of just a few Bulls starters who'll see a great deal of floor time because Jackson said the two-time defending NBA champions reported to camp last week out of shape.
In addition, several key players _ Bill Cartwright and John Paxson _ are coming back from off-season surgery and a few others _ B.J. Armstrong, Rodney McCray and Stacey King _ are nursing recent injuries.
Paxson, the club's starting shooting guard last year, participated in his first scrimmage just two days ago and should see some time Saturday. Meanwhile, Cartwright, who starts at center, hasn't scrimmaged yet and may not play Saturday, Jackson said.
The injuries to Armstrong (strained thigh), King (pulled hamstring) and McCray (ankle sprain) have limited their workouts and tempered their conditioning.
"I just don't think we're in great shape yet; guys taking (time) off, not doing a whole lot of running this summer," Jackson told reporters Wednesday in Chicago. "We're not in any kind of shape to play anybody a lot of minutes. The way we're going right now, I think we'll have to hold people up at the end to get through the games."
That means Dome fans better study up on guys such as Anderson Hunt, Corey Williams, Trent Tucker, Keith Tower, Jo Jo English and Ricky Blanton, the slew of rookies and free agents in the Bulls' camp who should get an inordinate amount of playing time along with Will Perdue, Scott Williams and Grant.
Same goes for the Bullets, who have a vastly different team than the one they had two years ago. Only two players _ Harvey Grant (Horace's twin brother) and Charles Jones _ who were on the club in June 1990 are still around.
The new Bullets go by the names Rex Chapman, Buck Johnson, LaBradford Smith and Larry Stewart, who join standouts Pervis Ellison and Michael Adams. All-Star Bernard King, who is recovering from surgery two years ago, won't see action in the preseason. The Bullets on Thursday received a league medical exemption for King, who has not recovered from knee surgery performed in September 1991.
Look for newcomers Chapman and Johnson to be on the floor a lot, along with rookie guard Brent Price (brother of Cleveland's Mark Price), who has dazzled during camp.
As of Thursday, Dome officials said more than 10,000 tickets had been sold for Saturday's game, and they expect to top 20,000 by tipoff.
Nuggets: Forward Anthony Cook will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee and is expected to miss the entire 1992-93 season.
Cincinnati Gardens: Owners of the arena, which was home to the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings), are planning to expand seating capacity from 11,000 to 22,000 in order to attract another NBA team.
_ The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Who: Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Bullets.
Where: Florida Suncoast Dome, St. Petersburg.
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Key players: Bulls _ Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant. Bullets _ Michael Adams, Pervis Ellison, Rex Chapman.
New faces to watch: Bulls _ Anderson Hunt, Rodney McCray, Trent Tucker. Bullets _ Brent Price, Buck Johnson, Don MacLean.
Tickets: Plenty still available. Price range: $5.50-$75. They can be purchased at the gate or by calling Ticketmaster (287-8844). Dome officials expect at least 20,000 fans.
Notes: Bullets enter this game having lost 15 consecutive preseason games (they were 0-8 last year and 0-7 the year before). Their last preseason victory: Oct. 28, 1989, against New Jersey. Bullets are looking to move Ellison from center to power forward during the preseason, leaving the center duties to second-year pro Greg Foster. Both teams open the season on the road Nov. 6: Chicago at Cleveland and Washington at Charlotte.
_ DARRELL FRY