After three seasons in retirement, Michael Jordan relinquished his role as President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards, opting to return to the court for two seasons, selling his ownership shares, and trading his suit for a uniform.
The result, at least as most remember it, was a lackluster, forgettable era in which an elderly Jordan hobbled up and down the court, failed to score, and was constantly embarrassed by younger players, leaving a permanent blemish on the previously pristine résumé of the greatest player in history. Are those memories accurate? Not one bit.
A few people have gone on so far as to say that the biggest myth in sports history is that Jordan ruined his legacy with the Wizards. The magnitude of the myth is a moot point, but by all means, it is definitely a myth.
Prior to a torn meniscus derailing his 2001-02 campaign, Michael Jordan was putting up per-game averages of 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. You know how many other players in the league were putting up those numbers at that time? The list is pretty short, and it starts and ends with the second greatest guard of all time in Kobe Bryant.
The following are the 5 most legendary performances by His Airness in a Wizards uniform:
#5 Wizards at Phoenix, January 26th 2002
Statline: 41 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals
With Jordan finding his feet within the new environment during the first couple of weeks, the Wizards started off slow in the 2001-02 season.
But during a 23-game spell smack in the middle of the season, they ran off a 19-4 record as Jordan averaged a barely believable 32 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in this period.
While the Suns were a middling team at this time, they had several capable players on the roster at the time - Penny Hardaway, Stephon Marbury and Shawn Marion rounded out an extremely lethal perimeter trio, while an old but still elite Dan Majerle came off the bench as a sharpshooter.
At the time of this game, the Suns were battling for a playoff spot in a stacked Western Conference at a 21-21 record, while the Wizards were in a similar position in the Eastern Conference.
Jordan still outperformed the elite trio of players in front of him by himself and led the Wizards to a relatively comfortable 112-102 win.