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WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR

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Barkley glanced toward the floor. Barkley broke the ice. When he spoke, it was in a soft voice.

"It was quick," he said, "so quick, the way it ended. I mean, you work seven, eight months, and then, wham, it's over."
I remembered a night back in November. It was the season opener at America West Arena. Barkley tore the Los Angeles Clippers apart. He led the team in scoring and rebounding.

When it was over, he tossed the game ball high into the stands. It was the start of the wildest ride any of us has ever seen. You have to wonder if any member of the Suns--Barkley included--will ever again have such a great season.

KJ wore shades to fend off the bright lights.
"It's a tough way to lose," he said. "I still don't know what happened on Paxson's shot. One thing, though. We didn't win the title. So now Charles won't be able to retire."
I went into the interview room. Most of the media people had left. They were replaying the tape of Jordan's interview.

I thought I might watch and take notes.
I heard Jordan say with the supreme confidence that has become his general manner of speech: " . . . now that we have accomplished history. . . ."

I put my pen back in my pocket. I turned away from the TV screen and headed for the parking lot. It was over.

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Tom Fitzpatrick