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NBA attendance up 1.63 percent

Michael who?

Despite the retirement of Michael Jordan, NBA attendance is up 1.63 percent this season. Huge increases in San Antonio and Houston are offsetting big drops by the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.

Attendance has increased for 12 teams, decreased for 10 and remained unchanged for five clubs because of continuing sellout streaks.

Despite the loss of Jordan, the Bulls' attendance is up slightly (0.08 percent) over last year. The three-time defending champion Bulls (37-19) trail first-place Atlanta by 2{ games in the Central Division.

The only teams with attendance losses who appear headed for the playoffs are Seattle, with a 2.56 percent drop; Utah, with a decline of 0.23 percent; and Indiana, which also has fallen less than half of one percent.

The largest attendance increase is in San Antonio, where the Spurs are playing in the new Alamodome. Crowds are up 35.38 percent from their average of 16,057 at HemisFair Arena last season.

Houston has the second-biggest increase, 20.72 percent, although the Rockets' overall average this season is disappointing for a championship contender. Houston is drawing 14,996 at the Summit, up from 12,423.

The Lakers are down 15.4 percent, with their average attendance falling from 15,178 in 1992-93 to 12,841 this season. The Clippers have the second-largest dropoff, 10.5 percent, from an average crowd of 12,535 last season to 11,219 in 1993-94, lowest in the NBA.

Detroit, another recent NBA champion that has fallen on hard times, has dropped 6.23 percent, from 21,454 to 20,117, still third in the NBA behind Charlotte's 23,698 and San Antonio's 21,739.

The other five teams experiencing declines are Boston, 0.81 percent; Dallas, 1.33; Milwaukee, 1.91; and Minnesota, 1.94.

Orlando attendance is up .92 percent.