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5 ways Michael Jordan is connected to the Wizards/Bullets franchise

5 ways Michael Jordan is connected to the Wizards/Bullets franchise

The Wizards host the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night in another meeting between Washington and the team owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan. Here is a look at how Jordan has been connected to the Wizards franchise over the years...

Tune in note: The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

He used to play for them

Jordan played two seasons for the Wizards in the early 2000s after sitting out three years following his second retirement from the Chicago Bulls. In those two seasons, at Age 38 and 39, Jordan averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He appeared in 142 games, including all 82 games in his second season.

The Wizards fell short of the playoffs both years he played in Washington, but what he did at his age was remarkable. He scored 40 points or more eight times and dropped 51 on the Charlotte Hornets in Dec. of 2001. He also hit a series of game-winning shots, including a famous one against Cleveland, the team he used to torment back when he played for the Bulls.

He was part owner and GM

Before Jordan returned to the game with the Wizards as a player, he joined the organization as part owner and president of basketball operations. Jordan ran the front office for two-plus years and made a series of questionable decisions. He drafted Kwame Brown first overall in 2001 and that didn't work out. He also traded Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse when Stackhouse was five years older. Hamilton was later a key piece on a championship team in Detroit.

He made his NBA debut against the Bullets

Long before he established himself as the greatest player of all time, Jordan made his NBA debut as on Oct. 26, 1984 in Chicago. His Bulls beat the Washington Bullets that night by 16 points. Jordan had 16 points himself to go along with seven assists, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals. He would go on to win the rookie of the year award with averages of 28.2 points (51.5 FG%), 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game.

He faced the Bullets in the playoffs

The Bullets made the playoffs just once between 1988 and 2005 and that one time they faced the Chicago Bulls right in the middle of their dynasty. Back then, first round series were best-of-five games and the Bulls swept Washington in three. Jordan dropped 55 in Game 2 against a Bullets team that featured Rod Strickland, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard.

That series produced one of the best Jordan stories ever told, how he walked into the Bullets locker room before one of the playoff games with a lit cigar and asked who was going to guard him that night. He then waited for the Bullets when they got off the bus in Chicago, leaning up against a Ferrari and again with a lit cigar. According to Webber, he was letting the Bullets know "he's the Red Auerbach before the game even started."

He is part owner of an esports team tied to the Wizards

Back in 2018, Jordan was part of a $26 million investment in the esports franchise, Team Liquid, which Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is a co-chairman of. According to Sports Illustrated, Magic Johnson is also an investor in Team Liquid. Leonsis reportedly helped recruit Jordan to come on board.


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Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has shown some different traits this season, now that his primary goal is player development. He has been much more willing to both bench players within games and then afterward offer harsh assessments as to why.

Second-year big man Moe Wagner got that treatment on Sunday night in the Wizards' 135-119 loss to the L.A. Clippers. After starting the game and playing 14 minutes in the first half, he played three minutes in the second half.

And during his postgame press conference, Brooks didn't mince his words when offering an explanation.

"His head wasn't in the game," Brooks said. "When you're a young player, you've gotta lock in. You have to do what we need to be done. We talked about it. We talked about it at halftime and he didn't want to do it."

Brooks has employed a similar strategy with other young players. Both Troy Brown Jr. and Rui Hachimura have been benched and then criticized publicly, albeit to different degrees.

In the past, Brooks has stopped short of publicly calling out players, particularly veterans and stars. But clearly he sees this as a tactic that can help light a fire under young players who have not yet established themselves in the NBA.

Wagner, for one, didn't take issue with Brooks' assessment.

"He's not wrong," Wagner told NBC Sports Washington. "I didn't have the energy I usually have... I think that's the biggest thing when you're young, the consistent effort and the consistency of doing your job. It's easy to do it every other night, but you have to do it every night."

Wagner's numbers weren't awful on Sunday. He had seven points and six rebounds and was 2-for-2 from three. 

But he had some head-scratching moments on defense and seemed to flop looking for fouls at times when he may have been more impactful playing within the team's defensive system.

"[I need to] do the easy things right. Just do your simple job. Don't overdo it. Don't do crazy stuff out there," Wagner said.

Wagner, 22, is playing heavy rotation minutes for the first time. Last year with the Lakers, he only appeared in 43 games and averaged 10.4 minutes per night. He is learning on the fly how to find consistency at the NBA level.

The good news for Wagner is that Brooks doesn't have much of a choice whether to play him. With Thomas Bryant out for at least a few weeks due to injury, he is the best center on the roster. 

But Brooks dropped a line that should serve as a warning to Wagner, that nothing is guaranteed, even in the situation the Wizards are currently in.

"I don't believe in doghouses, I believe in a fair house. If he doesn't do what we need, we move on to the next guy," Brooks said. 

"Everybody deserves that opportunity that works hard every day in practice. Next man up. Hopefully he will come back and be locked in against the Hornets. And he will."


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Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal rip officiating after loss to Clippers

Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal rip officiating after loss to Clippers

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks and guard Bradley Beal have a general policy when it comes to answering questions about officiating. Usually, they avoid details because they don't want to be fined by the league. Often, they say plenty with what they leave unsaid.

Sunday night was not one of those times. After the Wizards' 135-119 loss to the Clippers, both the coach and player broke character, rolled their sleeves up and gave the refs a good old fashioned takedown.

Brooks went first and initially said (sarcastically) the officials got all the calls right in the game. After that, he said what he was really thinking.

"When they grab you and hold you and the rules are saying you've got to call a foul, that's a foul. We don't get that. [Bradley Beal] doesn't get that and it's frustrating," Brooks said.

"The rule is you can't grab a guy with two hands. It's not my rule, it's not their rule; it's the NBA rule. If they're not going to call those more, what are we going to do? We're gonna get frustrated, we're gonna get [technicals] and that's not fair. That's not fun for the coaches, that's not fun for the players, that's not fun for everybody."

Beal, who 20 points and five assists but shot 5-for-18 from the field, didn't hold back, either. And he even explained why he felt he had to speak up this time as opposed to other games when he has been more tight-lipped.

"Honestly, [my frustration] is out the roof. It really is. It's really unfair and unacceptable that they allow a lot of stuff to go on with me out there and I do not calls. Period. It's just unacceptable," he said.

"They fine us for saying something. When we do say something on the floor it's 'oh, I didn't see it' or 'it wasn't my call.' I'm just so tired of hearing that. There's three guys out here. I know nobody's perfect, but the blatant ones have to be called and they're not being called. That s--- ain't fair."

Brooks got a technical for arguing a first-half play he thought should have been a charge taken by Moe Wagner. Davis Bertans and Ish Smith, two of the Wizards' more mild-mannered players, also got T'd up.

Brooks thought Smith getting a technical embodied the evening perfectly.

"When Ish [Smith] gets a [technical foul], I know something's going on. That guys is the nicest guy on the planet. He gets a technical by just telling a referee to call it the same on the other end," Brooks said.

Beal was not assessed a technical, though he said he was appreciative of Smith and Bertans sticking up for him. He also said he feels like the lack of respect from referees has been worse this year and suggested the Wizards aren't getting the respect other teams like the Clippers do because of their 7-15 record.

To be fair, the numbers didn't exactly back up those claims on Sunday. The Wizards had 30 free throw attempts, three more than L.A. did. And Beal led all players with nine. He made all nine of them. Beal is also ninth in the NBA in free throw attempts at 7.2 per game, up from his average last season of 5.5.

This was, though, clearly something that had built over a series of games. And the Wizards are averaging the fifth-fewest free throw attempts per game this season at just 20.4 per contest. The Clippers, for comparison, are fourth in the NBA at 26.2.

But when the Wizards are in a close game with a team like the Clippers, who have way more talent than they do, it is hard for them to accept when they feel the referees aren't giving them a fair chance.

And for Brooks, it was particularly bad for Beal, whom he says "gets held all the time." And it's bad for rookie Rui Hachimura, who made all seven of his free throw attempts but should have had more if you ask his head coach.

"He attacks and he gets zero free throws. I understand nobody knows him, but we know him. That doesn't mean anything. You should be able to get to the free throw line with the way he attacks," Brooks said.