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The balls bounced on the hardwood courts at Gimbel Gymnasium just as they always had. But something had changed. Basketball legend Michael Jordan had announced his retirement. At a morning press conference yesterday, Jordan announced he was retiring because he had lost his desire to play the game after the July murder of his father, James Jordan. The man who became an international hero, appeared on a Wheaties box and even had his own line of shoes, shocked the world. He was out of the game. Sure, it wasn't like the Earth had exploded. But for many students who grew up imitating the tongue-wagging, sky-walking tendencies of Air Jordan, it seemed like a friend was gone. "I was a fan of his when he was at North Carolina with James Worthy," said Nursing sophomore Michael Bentley, as he waited for a new pick-up game to begin at Gimbel. Bentley reminisced about his high school days and his first pair of Air Jordans. "Every kid had a pair of Air Jordans," Bentley said. "I had one of the very first models –Ethe real ugly ones with red, black and white." Jordan's influence was not lost on Bentley. "The NBA is Michael Jordan," he said. Amidst the clank of errant jump shots and squeaking shoes, Philadelphia resident Mike Polland remembered the athlete who so skillfully and frequently dismantled his hometown favorite 76ers. "I hated it when he would kill the Sixers," Polland, a businessman, said. "But if you've ever tried to dunk, you begin to appreciate how great an athlete he was." "He even dunked over Manute," Polland said, referring to former 76er and 7-foot-6 city celebrity Manute Bol. Mathematics graduate student Skaff Elias said although he will miss Jordan's proclivity for appearing in highlight films, the superstar's departure will help teams stymied by the Bulls' relentless defense and graceful offensive maneuvers. "I want to see [Phoenix Suns' forward Charles] Barkley win so I'm not going to miss him," Elias said. Chicago native Marna Fainman sees the retirement a bit differently. "I was in mourning today," said the College junior. "We all live for Michael at home." She's serious about the Bulls. "I stayed home this morning to watch the press conference," Fainman said, admitting that she cried. And Fainman is sure she won't be the only person who misses Jordan's on-court finesse. "Even grandmothers were yelling 'Go Michael' at the games."

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