Jordan commits again to unknown

Topeka Capital-Journal, The,  Jun 26, 2005  by Capital-Journal

TOPEKA TORNADO

Another leap of faith

More than 16 years after standing by his commitment to Roy Williams and Kansas, former Jayhawk point guard Adonis Jordan is taking another chance with the All American Professional Basketball League's Topeka Tornado.

Halloween 1988, right before the fall signing period, the NCAA made the announcement. Kansas was getting hammered.

The Jayhawks lost scholarships, lost the ability to pay recruits' way to campus, lost the right to defend their national championship.

In the next couple of days, they lost oral commitments from some of the nation's top recruits. Harold Miner fled to USC, where he would become a Pac-10 player of the year. Thomas Hill escaped to Duke, where he was key to two national championships. A half dozen more prospects cancelled visits.

Roy Williams was in his fourth month as KU's coach.

"It was a pretty bleak time period for us," Williams said last week from North Carolina, which last season he led to the NCAA title.

Adonis Jordan was on the verge of backing out of his commitment as well, just a phone call away from choosing Seton Hall instead. The decisive call, instead, was from KU.

On a November afternoon in his office, Bobby Braswell, Jordan's coach at Cleveland High in Los Angeles, handed the receiver to the boyish point guard. Williams was on the other end of the line.

"I told him, 'One thing in life, at some point, you have to place your faith in somebody,' and that was what I was asking him to do," Williams said. "I needed him to trust me."

A short time after they hung up, Williams' phone rang, and again Braswell put Jordan on the phone.

"He told me he was willing to have faith in me and he was going to come to Kansas," Williams said.

This time when Williams hung up, he walked down the hall to the office where assistants Steve Robinson, Kevin Stallings and Mark Turgeon were working the phones themselves.

"On the chalkboard, I wrote one word: 'HOORAY,'" he recalled. "That was big-time for us."

Adonis Jordan was big-time for KU, and vice versa. He wound up No. 6 all-time in assists, No. 22 in scoring and the Jayhawks' starting point guard in two Final Fours.

"Everybody except my mom thought I was crazy when I signed with Kansas," Jordan said. "I went with my heart. After four years, everybody who thought I was crazy was praising me for going there."

At this point, there's no telling whether Jordan's second commitment to basketball in Kansas is crazy or praiseworthy, but last week he made another leap of faith when he became the first coach of the Topeka Tornado in the fledgling All American Professional Basketball League.

"I've heard a lot of horror stories from other minor-league organizations," he said, "but I felt like something in the state of Kansas, I had to do it."

It was, in large part, on Williams' advice --- "It's always easier to get a job in coaching if you've already got a job in coaching" --- that Jordan returned.

But also, Jordan sensed from Worth Christie, the AAPBL's founder and owner, some of the same organization, drive and commitment he sensed in the man who first brought him to Kansas 16 years ago.

"It's not to the same extent, but it's real similar to how I felt about Coach Williams," he said. "I can judge people really well, and that's the sense I get from Mr. Christie.

"He's definitely on top of everything. He's enthused, and he has a plan. He's put a lot of time and a lot of his own money in it. He's putting his life into it."

Jordan put a dozen years into a playing career that spanned the globe. The same flaws Americans disdained last summer in their bronze-medal Olympic team, Jordan disdains in today's players. The same fundamentals that lifted Argentina against Italy for the gold, he will stress in his first head coaching job.

"He still believes in what he played at KU, but he's been exposed to a lot of different philosophies," Williams said. "He's a bright young man, and I think he'll be very successful."

Realistically, a minor-league hoops startup in Topeka has no better chance than a probation-addled first-year head coach in a big- time college program.

Then again, sometimes you just have to have faith.

Kurt Caywood can be reached at (785) 295-1288 or [email protected]

Continued from Page 1D

Caywood: Jordan willing to take chance

1993 FILE PHOTOGRAPH/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Jordan's trust in Roy Williams paid off handsomely, as he played in two Final Fours and ranks among the top 10 all-time at Kansas in games, 3-pointers, assists and steals.

1,373

Points Jordan scored at Kansas, 22nd all-time

568

Career assists at Kansas, sixth all-time

179

Career 3-pointers for Jayhawks, fifth all-time

137

Career games from 1989-93, 10th all-time

10

Career games in the NBA with Nuggets and Bucks