FIRST SEINFELD, THEN MURDOCH; NOW JORDAN SHOULD PULL THE PLUG

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This is the year to get out while the getting's good. Jerry Seinfeld did it. Rupert Murdoch just did it with TV Guide. And now Michael Jordan should do it.

As much as we'd all like to see Michael continue to play basketball and entertain us like no other player has ever done, it's time for him to hang it up.

Jerry Seinfeld ended his nine-year run because he had done everything in his show that he wanted to do, and he didn't want to start rehashing old ground. And he wanted to leave on top, when we weren't getting tired of him and his supporting cast.

The same goes for M.J. He and his supporting cast have done it all; there's nothing left to do. Two three-peats have a certain symmetry about them. One more title would sort of unbalance things.

And what if the Bulls didn't win another one? What if Michael was a half-step slower, and his repertoire of shots started to erode, and he couldn't jump quite as high?

I want to remember Mike for his smooth-as-silk jump shot that won the championship and maybe (as announcer Bob Costas said) was the last shot we'll ever see him take. Not for a shot that clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded. I guess I'm selfish, but I don't want my memories tarnished.

Anyway, Michael doesn't have to hang around. He could have any job he wanted. My suggestion: Offer him the job of commissioner of Major League Baseball for life. And let him hit batting practice anytime he wants.

Rupert Murdoch, being the sly old dog that he is, knows how to make a graceful exit. He sold off his perennial millstone, TV Guide, to the company that operates a TV listings channel, for $800 million in cash and a 40% interest in the TV listings service. How's that for making a silk purse out of a sow's ear?

Mr. Murdoch bought TV Guide in 1988, and he immediately started complaining that he paid too much for it. He shelled out $3 billion for Triangle Publications, and for that princely sum he also got Seventeen and the Daily Racing Form. Now all that's left of his U.S. magazine holdings is a conservative political journal, The Weekly Standard.

It's been rumored that Rupert has been trying to sell TV Guide for years, but when our family business paper ran a lead story in 1990 that the magazine was on the block, the Australian media mogul was more than a little ticked off.

I was sitting at my desk in New York on a Monday morning in May when the phone rang. "This is Rupert Murdoch, and you've done it to me again," the conversation started off. (We had had a few run-ins with him before.)

He then proposed to bet me $1 million that we couldn't produce a single source to back up our story. After he hung up, his PR man issued a press release about the bet. Ironically, I first had it played back to me from a reporter on one of Mr. Murdoch's own newspapers, the Boston Herald. In quick succession, I heard from USA Today, the New York Daily News, the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune.

They wanted to know why I didn't accept the wager, and I told them that to win I'd have to reveal our sources, which of course was out of the question -- much as I would have liked to pocket the million bucks since Mr. Murdoch canceled about $100,000 in advertising.

There was also some talk about his company, News Corp., suing us for "tortious interference with business relations" unless we printed a front-page retraction in the next issue of Advertising Age. Our attorneys responded that we had carried News Corp.'s denial in our original article. And that was that.

So, eight years later, I'm glad that Mr. Murdoch has finally found a buyer for TV Guide. And now, almost eight years after he began his first of six successful runs for the NBA championship, my fondest wish is that Michael Jordan is equally adept at seizing opportunities that come his way.

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