Going through physical pain and health issues is annoying but we have to be prepared to it as it is an unavoidable part of life; everyone eventually gets old and even individuals that seem immortal cannot escape this rule. Let me get it straight, with an example: everyone gets old and this includes Micheal Jordan.
In January 2000, Jordan returned to the NBA for the second time, after his memorable “I am back” in 1995. That time he would return not as a player, but as part owner and president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards. The next summer, Jordan hired his old Chicago Bulls head coach, Doug Collins as Washington’s coach for the upcoming season, a decision that many saw as foreshadowing another Jordan return.
On September 25, 2001, Jordan announced his second NBA comeback as a player in the team he partially owned. Here follows a story that Doug Collins told an ESPN interviewer; it is a snapshot of Micheal Jordan exceptional NBA career sunset. This story goes out to those that were lucky enough to witness this fantastic basketball player dominate the game throughout the nineties.
When I was coaching in Washington we played the Indiana Pacers and we were down 25 at the end of the third quarter. I took Micheal out of the game and I said: “look Micheal, I know you think that we can still win this game but we got to play again soon, you know. If we make a little run tonight I’ll put you back in the game”, but we didn’t.
I found out after the game was over that he had eight points in the game and he broke a streak of like eight hundred and sixty something games in double figures and so the media was: “you know, how do you think Micheal is going to be with this?”
I said: “You know what? Micheal has got championships, rings, he’s got gold medals, he’s got NCAA championships, he’s got MVPs. He is not going to care about the eight points”.
So he (Micheal Jordan) met with the media and agreed.
You know, the bus is lonely as a coach when you’re sitting there after you got your head handed to you, so I was sitting on the bus and actually Micheal had hired me. He was the part owner and president General Manager and he hired me to be the coach and then he came back to play.
I’ll never forget this moment. As his coach this to me was greatness.
He got on the bus and said “scoot over”. Then he looked at me and said: “Do you think I can still play?” and I said: “Absolutely, that’s why I am here to help you”.
He said: “You know, to be my coach you have to believe in me and believe I can still play”, and I said: “Micheal, I believe in you”.
He said: “You did the right thing tonight, you did the right thing tonight. I don’t care about the points but I needed to know that you believed in me”.
Fast forward; we get on the plane, he has a few cocktails, smokes a couple cigars, all the things you’re not supposed to do. We get back about 3.30 in the morning in Washington. At 7.30 that morning he is in the fitness room with Tim Grover, training like you can’t believe. Nice 41 years old. We play the New Jersey Nets next night and Micheal scores the first three times he has the ball.
Byron Scott takes a timeout and Micheal comes over and says:
“I want the ball right there the rest of the game and don’t take me out until I tell you”
And so that’s fine by me but with two minutes to go in the game he gives me the sign like that’s enough.
I take him out of the game, he walks over the bench and I say: “Micheal, what happened tonight?”
He said: “Well, the guy that was guarding me told me his back was hurting, don’t ever tell me you got a problem, I’ll make you pay for that”.
51 points later, 51 points at age 41, he came back the next game with 46 (points) and he looked at me and said: “I told you I could still play”.
97 points in two games. I was absolutely blown away at what this guy could do with his mind, how strong he was, and he is playing on one leg, and he cut his finger doing a cigar, all his finger was bent, he had a bad knee; the competitive will and great, I’ve never seen anything like that, but that moment when he looked at me and asked if I still believed in him, as this is the greatest player to play the game wanting to know if I still believed in him. It was a moment I would never ever forget.
Micheal Jordan played his last NBA game on April 16, 2003, in Philadelphia and retired for good at the end of the season. He scored 32292 points in his NBA career and for the impact he had on the game and his unparalleled skills, is generally regarded as the greatest basketball player of all times.