Although it was widely known that Jordan, a five-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) and member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, was planning a return to the hardwood, the September 11 terrorist attacks, and various professional issues, caused the formal announcement to be delayed.
“I am returning as a player to the game I love,” said a then 38-year-old Jordan, who last competed when he propelled the Chicago Bulls to a crown over the Utah Jazz in a remarkable Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. “I am especially excited about the Washington Wizards, and I’m convinced we have the foundation on which to build a playoff-contention team.”
The 10-time NBA scoring champion, who shortly thereafter made his regular season debut on October 30 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, continued explaining his choice to the media.
“The opportunity to teach our young players and help them elevate their game to a higher level, and to thank the fans in Washington for their loyalty and support, strongly influenced my decision,” said Jordan, who immediately declared his intention to donate his first year’s salary to the victims of 9/11.
One of Jordan’s past professional rivals, Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy, was confident that Jordan would quickly recapture his status as an elite ballplayer.
“I think he will return to being one of the top players in our league,” said a then 39-year-old Van Gundy. “His comeback certainly puts the Wizards in a position to make the playoffs this year.”
Unfortunately for Jordan and Wizards fans, Washington never qualified for the playoffs with MJ leading the franchise.
Nevertheless, despite compiling a substandard record of 74-90 in two seasons as a Wizard, Jordan performed well and experienced personal success on the floor.
Jordan, a 14-time All-Star and 10-time First Team selection, averaged 21.4 points, 4.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds over 142 games in the nation’s capital.
The six-time NBA Finals MVP is hailed on the official league website as, “the greatest basketball player of all time.”
Granted, Jordan’s numbers in “the District” weren’t indicative of being “the greatest basketball player of all time” and some analysts and onlookers contend his legacy was tarnished by joining the Wizards.
In actuality, Michael Jordan made a decision and nobody has a right to question the choice he made.
As a retired member of both the Bulls and Wizards, Michael Jordan firmly remains “the greatest basketball player of all time.”by