Want to know the biggest myth in sports? Lean in. Ready? Michael Jordan’s years with the Wizards were an embarrassment to his legacy.
Let’s dispel that myth, shall we? During Jordan’s first season with the Wizards (at ages 38 and 39), 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists on 41 percent shooting.
There’s a player in the league now averaging 21.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 50 percent shooting for the season. That player’s name is Dwyane Wade.
Jordan proved that he could still be a top-15 player at the age of 38 and his bottom-feeding Wizards would have been a playoff team in 2002 if he hadn’t gone down with a knee injury late in the season. In fact, through the All-Star break, Jordan was right there with Duncan and Kidd as an MVP candidate. If Jordan had stayed with a solid Bulls team, they would have been locks for deep playoff runs with MJ leading the way.
Let’s also not forget the GOAT was playing with cartilage-free knees and a finger that was irreparably damaged by a cigar cutter. Jordan still dropped 40- and 50-point games, becoming the oldest player to do so…probably ever.
What follows is a barrage of defensive shut-downs, 40-point games and buzzer-beaters that show just why Michael Jordan’s run with the Wizards should be seen as a legacy-fortifying triumph and not a hubris-fueled calamity.
Who knows if he could still play at age 50, but at age 40, Michael Jordan was still damn good.
1. The Block – By the time Jordan was a Wizard, everyone wanted to take a shot at him. So when MJ squared off against his old Bulls squad, he came across a hungry Ron Mercer who was dropping 25 points and jawing with MJ the whole way. After getting his shot blocked by Ron Artest (who D’d MJ to perfection when they met), MJ ran the floor and pinned Mercer’s layup attempt against the backboard. The best part? Jordan yelling “don’t talk no more shit” to Mercer all the way back down the court.
2. The Demise Of Vince Carter – There was a time when people thought Vince Carter could be the next Michael Jordan. It sounds crazy now, but Vince had all the physical tools to make it work. So when these two squared off, everyone paid attention. Things looked ugly for Mike as Vince dropped 19 first quarter points on his head. But Jordan barreled down, holding VC scoreless in the second half and breaking his ankles in the process. We should have known then what Vince was.
3. Jordan vs. Piercer – Paul Pierce is one of the last old school competitors left in the league. He talks trash and plays nasty, which made him a great competitor for MJ. On their first meeting, though, Jordan dominated with 32 points while holding Paul to 14 with 6-16 shooting.
4. The Shot III – Michael Jordan owned Cleveland, hitting series clinchers in the 89′ and 93′ playoffs. This game was a little less significant, yet there MJ was hitting the game winner once again. Poor Chris Mihm.
5. Jordan and the Nets – The Nets was the best team in the East during Jordan’s Wizards run, but that didn’t stop the 38-year-old from dropping 45 freaking points including 22 in a row (!!!) for his Wiz. You really still don’t think he was great in the blue?
6. Jordan Over Marion Pt. 1 – Shawn Marion was the best on-ball defender in the early 00s. So with the game on the line between Jordan and the Suns, it was natural for Marion to take defensive duties. One pump fake later, and Jordan hit the game-winner to give the Wiz a win in Phoenix.
7. Jordan Over Marion Pt. 2 – Jordan’s final All-Star game was something out of Hollywood. Tie game. Marion on D. Buckets. However, the refs called a phantom foul on the other side of the floor and Isiah Thomas (how in the f*ck is he coaching an All-Star game?) threw the game by keeping Vince Carter on KG in the 2nd overtime to give the West the win and rob MJ of his All-Star MVP.
8. 51 – Michael Jordan scored 51 points against the Charlotte Hornets. At age 38. Nobody will ever come close to 50 points at that age ever again. Mark my words.
9. Goodbye, NY – Jordan’s games in MSG have been legendary: the double-nickle, the post-gambling game, the final Bulls game. And let’s not forget Jordan’s last one ever in MSG where he went out with a 39-point bang.
10. Big Game In Indy – The Pacers were always great foils for Jordan and this vintage performance was absolutely great. Forty-one points in Indiana at damn near 40? We are not worthy.
An Extra For Entertainment: If we didn’t have Michael Jordan being great as a Wizard for those extra two years, we wouldn’t get a tribute by Mariah Carey. And without that tribute we wouldn’t get her looking like holy hot diggity damn in a skin-tight Wizards jersey dress. This was Mariah in her Zenith. This was her breasts’ Illmatic. Thank you MJ. And thank you gravity.