Michael Jordan : biography
With Phil Jackson’s contract expiring, the pending departures of Scottie Pippen (who stated his desire to be traded during the season) and Dennis Rodman (who would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent) looming, and being in the latter stages of an owner-induced lockout of NBA players, Jordan retired for the second time on January 13, 1999.
On January 19, 2000, Jordan returned to the NBA not as a player, but as part owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards.Sandomir, Richard. , The New York Times, January 20, 2000. Retrieved March 24, 2008. Jordan’s responsibilities with the Wizards were comprehensive. He controlled all aspects of the Wizards’ basketball operations, and had the final say in all personnel matters. Opinions of Jordan as a basketball executive were mixed., ESPN, May 9, 2003. Retrieved December 23, 2008.Brady, Erik. , USA Today, May 7, 2003. Retrieved February 23, 2007. He managed to purge the team of several highly paid, unpopular players (such as forward Juwan Howard and point guard Rod Strickland),Associated Press. , Sports Illustrated, February 22, 2001. Retrieved February 23, 2007.Matthews, Marcus. , USA Today, March 1, 2001. Retrieved February 23, 2007. but used the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft to select high schooler Kwame Brown, who did not live up to expectations and was traded away after four seasons.Wilbon, Michael. , The Washington Post, July 16, 2005. Retrieved February 23, 2007.
Despite his January 1999 claim that he was "99.9% certain" that he would never play another NBA game, in the summer of 2001 Jordan expressed interest in making another comeback,Araton, Harvey. , The New York Times, October 2, 2001. Retrieved February 12, 2009.White, Joseph. , cbc.ca, September 23, 2001. Retrieved February 12, 2009. this time with his new team. Inspired by the NHL comeback of his friend Mario Lemieux the previous winter,Associated Press. , ESPN, October 2, 2001. Retrieved March 7, 2007. Jordan spent much of the spring and summer of 2001 in training, holding several invitation-only camps for NBA players in Chicago., CNNSI.com, August 25, 2001. Retrieved February 12, 2009. In addition, Jordan hired his old Chicago Bulls head coach, Doug Collins, as Washington’s coach for the upcoming season, a decision that many saw as foreshadowing another Jordan return.
Washington Wizards comeback
On September 25, 2001, Jordan announced his return to the NBA to play for the Washington Wizards, indicating his intention to donate his salary as a player to a relief effort for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks., National Basketball Association, September 9, 2002. Retrieved January 16, 2007., The New York Times, September 26, 2001. Retrieved April 8, 2008. In an injury-plagued 2001–02 season, he led the team in scoring (22.9 ppg), assists (5.2 apg), and steals (1.42 spg). However, torn cartilage in his right knee ended Jordan’s season after only 60 games, the fewest he had played in a regular season since playing 17 games after returning from his first retirement during the 1994–95 season.
Playing in his 14th and final NBA All-Star Game in 2003, Jordan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in All-Star game history (a record since broken by Kobe Bryant)., National Basketball Association, February 26, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2012. That year, Jordan was the only Washington player to play in all 82 games, starting in 67 of them. He averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He also shot 45% from the field, and 82% from the free throw line. Even though he turned 40 during the season, he scored 20 or more points 42 times, 30 or more points nine times, and 40 or more points three times. On February 21, 2003, Jordan became the first 40-year-old to tally 43 points in an NBA game., National Basketball Association, February 21, 2003. Retrieved January 16, 2007. During his stint with the Wizards, all of Jordan’s home games at the MCI Center were sold out, and the Wizards were the second most-watched team in the NBA, averaging 20,172 fans a game at home and 19,311 on the road.. National Basketball Association. Retrieved February 12, 2009. However, neither of Jordan’s final two seasons resulted in a playoff appearance for the Wizards, and Jordan was often unsatisfied with the play of those around him.Maaddi, Rob. , Associated Press, USA Today, November 29, 2001. Retrieved March 11, 2007.Associated Press. , Sports Illustrated, April 12, 2003. Retrieved March 11, 2007. At several points he openly criticized his teammates to the media, citing their lack of focus and intensity, notably that of the number one draft pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, Kwame Brown.
With the recognition that 2002–03 would be Jordan’s final season, tributes were paid to him throughout the NBA. In his final game at his old home court, the United Center in Chicago, Jordan received a four-minute standing ovation.Johnson, K. C. , Chicago Tribune, January 25, 2003. Retrieved October 7, 2010. The Miami Heat retired the number 23 jersey on April 11, 2003, even though Jordan had never played for the team., Sports Illustrated, April 11, 2003. Retrieved March 8, 2007. At the 2003 All-Star Game, Jordan was offered a starting spot from Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson,Associated Press. , Sports Illustrated, February 8, 2003. Retrieved February 12, 2009. but refused both. In the end he accepted the spot of Vince Carter, who decided to give it up under great public pressure.Zeisberger, Mike. , slam.canoe.ca, December 18, 2004. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
Jordan’s final NBA game was on April 16, 2003 in Philadelphia. After scoring only 13 points in the game, Jordan went to the bench with 4 minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter and with his team trailing the Philadelphia 76ers, 75–56. Just after the start of the fourth quarter, the First Union Center crowd began chanting "We want Mike!". After much encouragement from coach Doug Collins, Jordan finally rose from the bench and re-entered the game for Larry Hughes with 2:35 remaining. At 1:45, Jordan was intentionally fouled by the 76ers’ Eric Snow, and stepped to the line to make both free throws. After the second foul shot, the 76ers in-bounded the ball to rookie John Salmons, who in turn was intentionally fouled by Bobby Simmons one second later, stopping time so that Jordan could return to the bench. Jordan received a three-minute standing ovation from his teammates, his opponents, the officials and a crowd of 21,257 fans., National Basketball Association, April 16, 2003. Retrieved January 16, 2007.