Why did Michael Jordan play for the Wizards after coming out of retirement?

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Michael Jordan spent the last two years of his career playing for the Washington Wizards (Image via Getty Images)

Michael Jordan's basketball career is the greatest, but it's also quite odd. The six-time NBA champion retired twice during his career and even decided to play baseball while he was at his peak.

After completing the second three-peat in 1998, the legendary guard decided to retire. However, after three years in retirement, he decided to come back and play for the Washington Wizards.

Jordan was 38 at the time and had nothing left to prove. His legacy with the Chicago Bulls was so impressive that he didn't need to win anything else to be the greatest. However, Michael Jordan had a different plan.


Michael Jordan spent two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards

In 1998, the Chicago Bulls' last dance ended with a victory over the Utah Jazz. The Bulls won their third championship in a row, completing their second three-peat. The team won six championships in eight years, which is very impressive.

Michael Jordan decided to retire after this incredible accomplishment. However, his retirement lasted only three years. In September 2001, the basketball legend laced up the sneakers once again, signing a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards.

Jordan signed a two-year contract with the Washington Wizards (Image via Getty Images)
Jordan signed a two-year contract with the Washington Wizards (Image via Getty Images)

Jordan was paid only $1 million per year with the Wizards. However, he did not decide to come out of retirement for money. The six-time NBA champion decided to donate his entire salary to the victims of the September 11 attacks in New York City.

You may be interested in reading: “This whole Michael Jordan mythology is sort of just that”- Colin Cowherd tears into MJ and credits two legends for his GOAT status

It was clear that MJ was not done playing basketball. Despite being 38, he felt like he could still play well and contribute, which is what he did. However, picking the Washington Wizards was a somewhat odd choice.

Jordan played fantastic basketball even at the age of 38 (Image via Getty Images)
Jordan played fantastic basketball even at the age of 38 (Image via Getty Images)

Many teams could have used Jordan's services back then. While he wasn't the same player he was during his peak with the Chicago Bulls, he was still great. Furthermore, Jordan was very popular, so having him on the team would be great for marketing, if nothing else.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, wanted the basketball legend to join his team. Cuban acquired the Mavs in 2000, but he could not persuade Jordan to go West.

Instead, the six-time NBA champion went on to play for the nation's capital.

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Ted Leonsis, owner of the Wizards, reached an interesting agreement with the basketball star. Here is what the businessman said regarding his deal with Jordan:

"I said, 'Tell me what you're interested in.' He said: 'I want to win more championships. I want equity. I want to run the basketball operations,'" Leonsis revealed.

You may be interested in reading: What did Michael Jordan say on LeBron James breaking all-time scoring record?

Michael Jordan wanted to own a team, which is why he received a minority ownership stake in the Wizards. However, he had to sell this stake once he decided to return to the NBA.

The legendary guard averaged 21.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 4.4 apg during his two-year tenure in D.C. However, the Wizards finished both seasons with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs.

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