Washington Wizards

Michael Jordan was NBA's biggest 'rock star,' according to Jared Jeffries

Michael Jordan was NBA's biggest 'rock star,' according to Jared Jeffries

Michael Jordan became a global superstar before people starting using the internet. That was August 1991, when the World Wide Web became available to the public. Jordan had already led the Bulls to their first NBA championship two months prior.

He would go on to dominate basketball in the ‘90s and briefly retire before coming back in 2001 to play for the Washington Wizards for two seasons.

Jordan’s former Wizards teammate Jared Jeffries was a guest on the latest episode of the "Wizards Talk" podcast and talked about what traveling for road games was like with the international icon.  

"You talk about icons and rockstars," Jeffries said. "What MJ did for the game of basketball, making it a global game that everybody had to watch, I think that's what you're going to see in this 'Last Dance.' Nobody traveled like him. We would get into hotels off back-to-backs at, like, three in the morning, and there would be a thousand people outside."

RELATED: Michael Jordan's intense side will be shown in 'The Last Dance'.

Jeffries said that he expects the "rock star" side of MJ to be featured in "The Last Dance," the 10-part ESPN documentary series on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Bulls. It was originally set for a summer release but was pushed up as the rest of the sports world is at a halt. The series will be released on April 19.

RELATED: How to watch ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ documentary on Michael Jordan, 1998 Bulls

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Jerry Stackhouse wishes he never played with Michael Jordan for Wizards

Jerry Stackhouse wishes he never played with Michael Jordan for Wizards

Don't meet your heroes. The old adage holds true for Jerry Stackhouse, who said on the Adrian Wojnarowski's "The Woj Pod" on Wednesday that he wishes he never played in Washington with Michael Jordan.

On the surface, it seems like the opportunity to play with Jordan would be a dream come true for just about anyone. Even more so for a guy like Jerry Stackhouse since he played college ball at North Carolina, just like Jordan.

But Stackhouse's first year with the Wizards was also Jordan's last year in the league. Jordan was 39-years-old and he clearly wasn't the same player as he was in the '90s.

"It was really challenging to be able to be in a situation with an idol, who at this particular point, I felt like I was a better player," said Stackhouse in The Woj Pod.

Sure, MJ was still scoring 20 points a night in his final year with the Wizards, but Stackhouse was starting to really make a name for himself in the league. Just two years prior he was an All-Star and averaged 29.8 PPG and 5.1 APG with the Pistons. In any other situation he would've been the focal point of the offense.

"Things were still being run through Michael Jordan," Stackhouse said on The Woj Pod. "He wanted to get a little more isolations on the post, of course, so we had more isolations for him on the post. And it just kind of spiraled in a way that where I didn't enjoy that season at all."

RELATED: Why Michael Jordan wasn't satisfied after Game 2 Bulls' win over Supersonics

It becomes easier to understand Stackhouse's frustration when you consider that he had been traded from Detroit to Washington in the offseason. The Pistons built on their growing success and reached the Conference Finals in 2003. The Wizards, on the other hand, went 37-45 and missed the playoffs.

"Kind of the picture I had in my mind of Michael Jordan and the reverence I had for him, I lost a little bit of it during the course of that year."

 

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With Tom Brady leaving the Patriots, a reflection on Michael Jordan's post-Bulls days

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USA Today

With Tom Brady leaving the Patriots, a reflection on Michael Jordan's post-Bulls days

Even with it happening twice in just over a two-week span in January 2002, it didn’t seem real.

Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform.

Playing the Bulls.

Tom Brady’s looming exit from the Patriots opened that memory bank Tuesday. At least when Brady returns to Foxboro, Mass., in whatever uniform he’s wearing, he won’t be playing with a statue of his likeness outside the building.

Or will he?

Jordan doing so on Jan. 19, 2002, at the United Center is one of the many jarring memories from that month.

Is now the time to mention that Jordan’s Wizards won both games?

Of course they did.

Jordan actually used the offseason before the 2001-02 season to prepare for his comeback after a three-season layoff. He played against Bulls like Jamal Crawford, Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) and Trenton Hassell in pickup games at Hoops The Gym near the United Center. Crawford even tore his ACL in one such scrimmage and only played 23 games in that, his second season.

Artest knew a regular season game would be different than a scrimmage.

"It's much different because Mike always steps up when it's NBA time," Artest said following Bulls practice at the Berto Center on Jan. 3, 2002. "Mike is going to try to get 100. You have to stay focused and not worry about all the highlight films. I have to get `Come Fly with Me' out of my mind and just guard him."

Instead, Jordan only scored 29 points, with seven rebounds and two blocks in the Wizards’ 89-83 triumph. The blocks are mentioned because Jordan pinned a Ron Mercer layup attempt against the backboard with two hands in the waning seconds of the game, putting to bed a furious 26-point comeback bid by the Bulls.

“I can jump when I have to,” Jordan said afterward, “especially when I get [angry].”

Jordan scored 19 points in the second period, passing the 30,000-point mark in the process. At the time, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone were in that club. Since then, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowtizki have joined.

It wasn’t another 'Flu Game,' but Jordan did overcome a sinus infection to play. And he flashed both his legendarily competitive side and ability to diss people with his postgame comments.

“This is special in a sense that we’re trying to claw our way out of the basement of losing teams,” Jordan said. “If we have to step on other people to move up, then that’s what we do.

“That’s the importance of it more than anything. I like to think that we’re moving in the right direction, and Chicago may not be moving in the right direction, and I don’t want to be compared with them. I want to show some separation.”

Even in the wake of that comment, a two-minute-plus standing ovation welcomed Jordan back to the United Center on Jan. 19, 2002. It actually would’ve lasted longer had the lights not dimmed to signal the Bulls’ lineup introduction.

"You didn't see any tears," Jordan said afterward. "I was getting close, though."

The Wizards prevailed 77-69 on that night in a brutal game from both teams.

"It was a big egg," forward Charles Oakley said afterward.

Jordan laid his share. He finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high nine turnovers.

"I had a tough time playing against Chicago," he said. "It's like playing against a relative. You're not quite as motivated. Chicago is Chicago. The Bulls are the Bulls. I'm very glad it's over."

So were the Bulls, who shot a franchise-record-low 16.7% in the first half and 24.7% overall.  

"I have a statue out front," Jordan said. "When I come back, it's never going to be just another game. Somehow I'm always going to be connected to the Bulls."

Just like Brady always will be connected to the Patriots.

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