| Jordan era comes to a bitter end
Washington: Just weeks after being showered with praise and tributes the Michael Jordan era in Washington came to a bitter end Wednesday when the basketball great was told by the Wizards they would not bring him back as president of player operations.
In a stunning sequence of events, team owner Abe Pollin met Jordan and his representative Curtis Polk, Wednesday morning and informed the five-time NBA most valuable player his services were no longer needed by the Wizards, ending a three-and-a half-year relationship, two as a player.
According to the Washington Post, the meeting quickly deteriorated into a heated shouting match and personnel at the MCI Center arena, the Wizards home court, said Jordan stormed from the building.
“It was well understood that when I finished playing, I would return as president of basketball operations and this was definitely my desire and intention,” Jordan said in a statement reported on the Washington Post website. “However, today, without any prior discussion with me, ownership informed me that it had unilaterally decided to change our mutual long-term understanding.
“I am shocked by this decision, and by the callous refusal to offer me any justification for it,” said Jordan, who played his last game for Washington in April.
The Washington Post reported that a Wizards source who asked not to be named listed several factors for Pollin’s decision not to bring Jordan back, including Jordan’s conflicts with teammates and a feeling that “relationships throughout the organisation seemed to be deteriorating.”
“While the roster of talent he has assembled here in Washington may not have succeeded to his and my expectations, I do believe Michael’s desire to win and be successful is unquestioned,” Pollin said in a statement.
“In the end, (minority owner) Ted Leonsis and I felt that this franchise should move in a different direction,” he said. Jordan joined the Wizards as a part-owner in January 2000 and was lured out of retirement before the 2001-2002 season but failed to re-energise the Wizards, who have not made the post season for the last six seasons.
After leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles, Jordan’s frustration at being unable to take the Wizards into the playoffs resulted in a divided locker room.
As the season drew to a close, Jordan became openly critical of the effort being put in by his teammates and their desire to win.
While some of Jordan’s immense talent had diminished it did not affect any of his appeal, his mere presence transforming the Wizards into the NBA’s top draw.
All 82 home games over the last two seasons have been sellouts, Jordan providing the struggling franchise with instant credibility if not success. The 40-year-old Jordan played 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, winning six NBA titles before retiring after the 1997-1998 season.
Since Jordan returned to the court two years ago, he has averaged 21.2 points a game as the Wizards team finished 37-45 each season.
There is speculation Jordan could take a management position with another team including the Atlanta Hawks or the Bulls. He has also been linked Charlotte expansion franchise being fronted by Bob Johnson, the chairman of Washington-based Black Entertainment Television.