The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Air Jordan taxiing to terminal

Washington: Michael Jordan’s two-year basketball encore is over, reminding the world that even the most magnificent songs do not end with a crescendo.

While his latest performance was not virtuoso, it was also far from failure.

Jordan played his final National Basketball Association game late Wednesday in Philadelphia. The 40-year-old superstar who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles could not guide the Washington Wizards into the playoffs.

Finally, Jordan leaves the court after a 15-year career on his own terms with no unfinished business. “I’m 100 per cent sure,” Jordan said. “This is my last year. No 99.9 — 100 per cent.”

Jordan led Chicago to three titles in-a-row but retired in 1993 at age 30 after the murder of his father James and made an ill-fated bid to play professional baseball, which led to a comeback in 1995.

Stung by a playoff defeat, Jordan trained during the making of his movie ‘Space Jam’ and sparked the bulls to three more crowns, the last coming on what could have been his final shot, a title-winning jumper against Utah in 1998.

It was the last shot for ‘Air’ Jordan, the legend who rewrote the record book, who led the NBA in scoring for 10 seasons, seven in-a-row, and the one who departs with an all-time record career average of 30.2 points a game.

But the goodbye was tainted. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause pushed out coach Phil Jackson, sparking a break-up of a champion that never got to see how long it would have taken before being conquered.

“I always got the sense that Michael was consumed with the game, consumed with winning and competing,” former Bulls guard Steve Kerr said.

Jordan bid farewell to Chicago in January of 1999 after the end of a labour dispute, but joined the wizards as president of basketball operations a year later and returned to the court in September of 2001.

The gravity-defying aerobatics that defined his youth were gone, but his tongue would still stick out at age 40 and his skill and experience eased the pain of being grounded and loss of what father time had taken from his game.

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