The worlds eyes are watching Chicago Bulls owner

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As a Chicagoan, I couldn't be happier about the Chicago Bulls winning their fourth championship.

As a Chicago Jew, I couldn't be more concerned. Scared, even. Having won four titles in six years, citizens of the Windy City want to win number five next year.

But first the team must sign two people who are, as of this moment, without contracts for next season.

And not just any two.

One is Dennis Rodman, who gave the Bulls the spark and the rebounds they needed to win a record-breaking 72 games this year.

The second is Michael.

Not much more need be said.

Yes, Michael Jordan is not signed for next season.

Which scares the hell out of me.

What scares me is that the man who must sign Dennis and Michael, the man in whose hands a city's dreams rest, is Jerry Reinsdorf.

Reinsdorf as in Jew.

Perhaps you saw him after the Bulls beat the Sonics to take the title. He was the one in glasses, sportshirt and no tie as the team gathered at center court to receive the trophy. Soon afterward NBC's Bob Costas turned to congratulate Coach Phil Jackson and ask him the inevitable: "Will you be back?"

Millions watched as Jackson replied, "If management wants me back."

Reinsdorf, who has since signed Jackson to a one-year contract, just stood there saying nothing.

How sad that such a question had to be asked. How much sadder that it had to be answered in this way. And how scary for the Jewish people.

For if Chicago Jews think people don't like us now, and think and say bad things about us, just wait. We ain't seen nothing yet.

Unless, that is, our brother Reinsdorf comes to his senses. Fast.

Why Reinsdorf hasn't already signed Dennis and Michael is truly hard to understand. Easy to understand is that a lot of money is involved. Yet harder to grasp is that the potential for anti-Semitism is enormous.

I am very serious about this. I don't know what kind of calculations Reinsdorf is making, but I sure as hell hope one of those calculations involves the fact that he's a Jew — who thus has the potential to unleash a wave of Jew-hatred unseen around Chicago for a very long time. This Jew-hatred would wield the most potent weapon in the stereotypical arsenal: money.

Make no mistake. It will happen if money becomes the reason that Jordan or Rodman aren't signed.

One can only hope that Reinsdorf cares enough about being a Jew to recognize that. To recognize that what he does will say a lot not only about him but about us.

Maybe that's unfair. Maybe Reinsdorf should be allowed to run his team as anyone else would, be allowed to make decisions based only on his business judgment, not have to worry about representing the Jewish people as he does his job and protects his investment.

Well, it probably is unfair and he probably should be allowed to do his businessman thing. But life ain't always fair and reality is reality. What Reinsdorf does will reflect on his religion and his people. So he has a responsibility to take that factor into account.

So far, however, the signs are not very encouraging. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune before signing Jackson, Reinsdorf said he wouldn't sign the big three just to make Chicago fans happy.

"I'm not in this for popularity," he said. "I'm not interested in whether people who don't know me like me or not."

He went on to call himself "just a fat Jewish kid from Brooklyn."

Indeed. Exactly.

Emphasis on the word Jewish. To be both a celebrity and a Jew is to carry a responsibility — like it or not, want it or not, accept it or not. And what you do is seen as a statement on Judaism.

As the summer — and the negotiations — wear on, Chicago fans will have their eyes on Reinsdorf. He's the man who holds the fate of our beloved team in his hands; he's the man who controls the purse strings. He's the Jew.

Imagine the reaction if, God forbid, he lets either of them get away. Imagine the shouts of "Cheap Jew!" or "What can you expect from someone named Reinsdorf?" or "Money means more to him than even Michael Jordan."

Imagine. I hope Reinsdorf does. Sure it's a burden; sure it's a factor a non-Jewish owner wouldn't have to take into account. But part of being Jewish, being a light unto the nations, is being given burdens and being expected to handle them responsibly, honorably, Jewishly.

I so much admire those public Jews who do just that — like David Letterman's bandleader Paul Shaeffer, who never works on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. I don't know if Paul goes to shul, but I know he recognizes that what he does says something about more than just himself.

I feel contempt for public Jews who don't see or accept that fact — Jews like the late William Paley, founder and former chairman of CBS, who went out of his way to cover all traces of Judaism in his public life.

We all, in fact, represent all of us.

If you have a name like Goldstein and you are rude to your repairman, he won't just think badly of this one Goldstein but of all Goldsteins, meaning all of us who share the same religious affiliation are members of the same tribe.

We all need to remember this. But it's especially true for the well-known ones among us.

The most watched Jew in Chicago at this moment is clearly one Jerry Reinsdorf. And as he figures out how to make Michael and Dennis happy and what it will take to do that, I hope and pray he remembers that this is about more than just what's best for him or even for the team.

It's also about being a public Jew doing a very public act: an act that will tell many about all of us.

Please think about that, Jerry. Long and hard.

And then sign the pair already, for God's sake.