Jordan Rides The Stars

By Phil Jasner

It's a Bill Parcells thing.

Eddie Jordan has taken part of his philosophy coaching the 76ers from something he gleaned from Parcells, the NFL coach and TV analyst. And that is why Jordan has been tough on comebacking Elton Brand, and why he is constantly in the ear of Andre Iguodala.

''As a coach, you have to show your team that you have to coach the best players,'' Jordan said as the Sixers prepared to face the Washington Wizards Tuesday night in the Verizon Center. ''(The theory is), you ride your best player and your team will follow and they'll have respect for that player if he can handle it, and more respect for you as a coach.

''So I ride Andre and I ride Elton. I don't ride Thad (Thaddeus Young), 'cause Thad's different. (Iguodala and Brand) are our two best players, and I ride them. I ride them in both ways; I'm going to get the ball to them and yert I'm going to make them examples. I think they understand that.''

Something has clearly worked with Brand in the three previous games; he has averaged 19.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. In the previous seven games, he never had as many as 11 points, 9 rebounds  or more than one block in any of them. Remember, Jordan had talked openly about perhaps changing the lineup, shifting Brand to be the center with the second unit.

To this point, the lineup has remained the same, with Brand as the starting power forward.

''I'm doing the things that coach spoke to me about, to stay on the court, to earn the minutes and be out there,'' Brand said. ''When you're playing 18 minutes there's not much you can show; you get 30 minutes, 40 minutes, you can show a lot more; you can do a lot more. You're going to get more loose balls, you're going to get more rebounds, you're going to get more points. This is what it is in the game, in the NBA.''

Jordan touched a nerve, but--at least in private--ever so gently. He told Brand that, if he just did the things he was being asked to do he wouldn't have anything to worry about.

''You've got to step it up, that's how I felt,'' Brand said. ''Even though I could blame minutes or (that) I'm not playing in the fourth quarter, woe is me . . . But I know every second I'm out there, I've got to provide something for the team. I'm just getting a chance to use my talent to try and win the ball games.

That just left Jordan touching another nerve.

''He's getting his numbers,'' Jordan said. ''Stats-wise, he's improving, but I still want to see him improve in the things that don't show up on the stat sheet--rotations, transition defense. He, and others, have to improve.''