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The Big Twenty: The Michael Jordan era with the Wizards

The Big Twenty: The Michael Jordan era with the Wizards

NBC Sports Washington is rolling out the 20 biggest stories in DMV sports in the past 20 years. Here is No. 7.

Throughout the 59 seasons in Wizards/Bullets franchise history, there have rarely been times where the team was at the forefront of the national sports conversation. And some of those instances have not been for good reasons.

That was not the case in the early 2000s, as the biggest star to ever to play in the NBA decided to trade in his executive suite for a Wizards uniform and return to the game. Michael Jordan, the greatest player in basketball history, announced his second comeback to the NBA on Sept. 25, 2001.

Jordan had previously only played for the Chicago Bulls, but he had joined the Wizards organization the year before as part owner and president of basketball operations. His brief tenure running their front office was unsuccessful and included the infamous decision to draft Kwame Brown with the first overall pick in 2001.

But as a player, he proved he could still compete with the best in the NBA despite playing for the Wizards at Age 38 and 39. In his first season, he averaged 22.9 points in 60 games with 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals. His second and final season saw him average 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He played 37 minutes a night and appeared in all 82 games.

The Wizards didn't make the playoffs in either of those seasons, the first in part because Jordan missed 22 games due to injury. But they were some of the more entertaining years in franchise history.

Jordan scored 40 points or more eight times with the Wizards. He dropped 51 against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 29, 2001 at the age of 38. That was the record for oldest player to score 50 until Jamal Crawford did so at Age 39 last April.

Jordan didn't have the same vertical leap or burst of speed with the Wizards that he did with the Bulls, but he still got buckets because he was the smartest player on the floor. He used old school moves in the midrange to light up opponents who were half his age.

And he still had the knack for making clutch shots. Jordan sank a series of buzzer-beaters, including one against the Phoenix Suns and one against his longtime doormat, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jordan's most famous late-game shot as a Wizard, however, was in the 2003 All-Star Game. He knocked down a fadeaway over Shawn Marion, one of the league's best defenders at the time.

Throughout those two years, the Wizards sold out games at home and on the road. At away games, No. 23 Wizards jerseys peppered the crowd. Wizards gear could be seen in major cities all around the country. He made the Wizards more relevant than they have ever been since the name was changed from Bullets in 1997.

Jordan's tenure, though, ended on rocky terms. When he finished playing, he left the organization altogether. It was a clean break, no return to the front office or any involvement with the franchise whatsoever.

And his departure was capped with a famous picture of Jordan driving out of the arena and onto 6th St. in his Mercedes convertible. The greatest NBA player of all-time had left the building.

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Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Wizards head back to the nation's capital Monday night for a matchup with Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks at Capital One Arena.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with an astounding 53 points in the team's loss Sunday night to the Chicago Bulls. Beal passed Jeff Malone on the team's all-time scoring list for second place. He now only trails Elvin Hayes.

The Bucks are coming off a dominant 21-point win over the 76ers on Friday night and look to continue their stellar play in D.C. against the struggling Wizards.

Here is everything you need to know.

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Bucks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Bucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. BULLS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Bucks

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Wizards Talk

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (29.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.0 APG): Beal will look to carry the Wizards to victory against the Bucks after the team was unable to defeat the Bulls on Sunday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (30.0 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.8 APG): The Greek freak is on a fast-track to another MVP trophy and has the Bucks in a prime position to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Coach Scott Brooks unloads on 'soft' Wizards after loss to Bulls

Coach Scott Brooks unloads on 'soft' Wizards after loss to Bulls

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks scratched and clawed his way through 10 NBA seasons as a player after going undrafted out of college and while doing all of it as an undersized point guard. He made it those 10 years because more than anything he was tough and resilient.

And because of that, there is nothing he laments more as a coach than when he believes his players are being soft. On Sunday night, after his Wizards lost in Chicago to the Bulls, he used the word 'soft' over and over to describe their performance to reporters.

In Brooks-ese, which often consists of platitudes and positivity, that means he is nothing short of irate about how the Wizards have played in their first two games coming out of the All-Star break. They have lost to two teams - the Cavs and Bulls - who are not good and in games they had early leads and a chance to win.

But it's clearly not just the losses themselves that has bothered Brooks, it is the nature of them. And you could argue the way he unloaded on his team on Sunday night suggested he is as fed up now as he has been at any point with them since he took over as head coach four years ago.

What Brooks had a particular issue with was the and-ones the Wizards allowed. The Bulls had nine of them, which means the Wizards fouled them but not hard enough to prevent a made shot. Brooks evidently wants his players to make their fouls count and ensure nothing comes easy for their opponents. He wants them to earn those points at the free-throw line.

As Brooks put it, the "and-ones were about as soft as you can get," per Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. He also said the 16 and-ones between the last two games may be the most he's ever seen in his NBA career.

That would be difficult to verify, but it's easy to figure out who has been the culprit recently. Of the 16 and-ones in the last two games, which was indeed the accurate number, Ian Mahinmi leads the way with four. Bradley Beal, Jerome Robinson, Davis Bertans and Moe Wagner are next up with two apiece.

All in all, nine different Wizards players have committed an and-one foul in the last two games. So, though Mahinmi has had the most issues, it's a team-wide problem.

There is also more to an and-one than just the fouler themselves. They are usually the result of a defensive breakdown. But Brooks also noted how some Bulls players probably didn't even realize they were fouled, which suggests they should have been fouled harder.

Surely, the Wizards will work on it because as direct as Brooks was with the media on Sunday night, you can bet it was much worse behind closed doors. Wizards players likely got an earful either at halftime or after the game. And they will likely hear plenty more in an upcoming film session.

Playing soft is Brooks' biggest pet peeve and the Wizards have clearly struck a nerve with their last two games. The good news is they will have a chance to rebound very soon with another game on Monday night, the second of a back-to-back. The bad news is that it's against the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks, a team currently on pace to win 70 games.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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