Everyone has focused on Michael Jordan's Last Dance with the Bulls in 1998, but you can't forget about his REAL "Last Dance" in the NBA which began in 2000 with the Wizards.
It turns out David Stern and the NBA league office played a big part in Jordan's return to the league, as former Wizards beat writer Steve Wyche explained to Chris Miller and Quinton Mayo on the Wizards Talk podcast.
"The NBA wanted to find a way to get Michael involved, especially with a lack of diversity ownership in the NBA," Wyche said. "They approached Abe Pollin and the folks in Washington and said, 'Look, can Michael get in? It'll be an injection to a franchise we want to see succeed in the nation's capital.'"
Jordan would join the Wizards as a part-owner and director of basketball operations, with his most notable moves being his decision to draft Kwame Brown and trade away Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland. He also dealt a young Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse in 2001.
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Jordan mostly worked out of Chicago with general manager Wes Unseld handling the day-to-day in D.C. It's unsurprisingly difficult to know your team and what they need to win when you aren't in the building every day, so Jordan received a fair amount of criticism on the issue.
Despite the challenges and growing pains associated with Jordan figuring out his new position, there was a ton of interest around the Wizards.
"It was absolutely thrilling because the MCI center was packed every game and every venue they went to," Wyche said.
Then came the rumors surrounding Jordan's return to the court.
"I said, 'MJ I am hearing from multiple people, that you are training your tail off to come back and play,'" Wyche said. "He said, 'Steve, I am 99.9% not coming back.'"
Even though he nearly shut the idea down completely, that.01% was all Jordan needed to come out of retirement a second time. He signed a two-year deal to play for the Wizards and would donate his player salary to a relief effort supporting victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Over the course of his two seasons in Washington, Jordan averaged 21.2 points, 4.4 assists and 5.9 rebounds. He played in 142 games and made the All-Star team both years he was a Wizard. However, the Wizards failed to make the playoffs in either season with Jordan on the roster.
For a guy pushing 40 by the end of his career, those are some impressive numbers.
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