View Full Version : Wizards abruptly end Jordan's tenure

05-07-2003, 06:17 PM
From Sportsline.com wire reports/Associated Press:

WASHINGTON -- Imagine that, an NBA team showing Michael Jordan the door. Even he was shocked.


The Washington Wizards abruptly dumped basketball's most popular figure Wednesday, ending a relationship that produced much fanfare but little success over 3 seasons.

Disappointed with the team's poor record and embarrassed by infighting on and off the court, owners Abe Pollin and Ted Leonsis told Jordan about their decision in a short morning meeting at the team's arena.

After it was over, Jordan left in a convertible, with the top down.

He was the Wizards' president before coming out of retirement to play for them the past two years. He retired for good last month and expected to return to the team's front office.

"This was definitely my desire and intention," Jordan said in a statement. "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."

A Wizards source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that Pollin's decision was based on three factors: player dissension, a franchise faltering after the years of Jordan in charge, and deteriorating relationships throughout the organization.

The source said no decision has been made about the front-office people Jordan hired, or whether Jordan's hand-picked coach, Doug Collins, will remain for the final two years of his contract.

Michael Jordan has talked about a role with the new Charlotte franchise, according to sources. (Getty Images)
"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, Ted and I felt that this franchise should move in a different direction."

Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s but never came close to duplicating that success in Washington. In essence, he transformed the Wizards from a largely ignored mess into a very public one.

The Wizards haven't won a playoff game since 1988, and the franchise's only NBA championship came in 1978 as the Bullets.

Jordan put the franchise back on the map when he was hired in January 2000, but his record was just 110-179 as the top decision-maker, a role he kept even after returning as a player.

Unaccustomed to failure, Jordan hasn't been discarded by a basketball team since he was cut from the varsity as a sophomore in high school.

Now he's expected to explore options with other teams, with the new expansion franchise in Charlotte and the Bulls the most likely alternatives. Jordan has spoken to friend Robert Johnson, new owner of the Charlotte NBA franchise, about a possible role with that team, a person with knowledge of those discussions told The Associated Press on Sunday on condition of anonymity.

The last few months have been particularly embarrassing for Pollin, an old-school owner who has shown little tolerance for in-house turmoil.

Jordan and his teammates sniped at each other as the Wizards finished a disappointing 37-45 for the second consecutive year and missed the playoffs again. Players publicly criticized Collins, who said they were disrespectful, and recent reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post exposed a front-office rift involving people Jordan hired.

The long-anticipated meeting Wednesday included Jordan, Pollin, Leonsis, Pollin's attorney David Osnos and Jordan's attorney Curtis Polk. Leonsis originally brought Jordan to Washington by making him part owner of both the Wizards and the Capitals.

Jordan was given free rein to run the Wizards but stumbled from the start. He botched the firing of coach Gar Heard and later hired Leonard Hamilton, who went 19-63. As an executive, Jordan tried to run the team from his home in Chicago, leaving a rudderless team to falter on its own.

Hamstrung by the Wizards salary-cap problems, he eventually overhauled the roster and made the team his own. Jahidi White is the only pre-Jordan player left. The biggest flop? Kwame Brown has done little since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft.

Of course, Jordan's biggest personnel move came when he returned as a player. That helped the Wizards sell out every home game the last two seasons, giving Pollin a tidy profit.

This season, Jordan loaded the roster with Jerry Stackhouse, Bryon Russell, Larry Hughes and Charles Oakley in an effort to get to the playoffs one last time, but the chemistry was bad from the start. Players found it awkward sharing the locker room with the person in charge of their contracts, and Jordan's work ethic failed to rub off.

"He's still considered the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball. I don't think anybody can take that away from him," said Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton, a promising young player traded away by Jordan.

"As a team president, I'm not sure."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

Link (http://sportsline.com/nba/story/6358043)

I'm somewhat shocked. I thought MJ might leave on his own, but I didn't think the Wizards would force him out.

05-07-2003, 07:05 PM
Probably the best thing for both having read some of the garbage that has come out of that franchise in the past week.

05-07-2003, 07:41 PM
Maybe we could MJ to come play another year for us at the league minimum if Cubes promises him a management position.

05-07-2003, 07:46 PM
Expected this but did not like the way it was handled.

05-08-2003, 05:39 PM
What is wrong with the wizards?? Michael Jordan IS BASKETBALL!! he always wil be, that was just stupid. i can't beleive they did that. He probably was going to leave anyway, so why not let him do it on his on power? geez, some people these days..

Usually Lurkin
05-09-2003, 07:45 AM
Best decision the Wizards have made since they hired him.

05-10-2003, 11:00 PM

Usually Lurkin
05-11-2003, 09:56 AM
he's full of himself. He thinks that he is basketball.
He's an ass under whom the youngsters on the team aren't growing.
He's shown consistently that he's more interested in himself than the team.

05-11-2003, 10:11 AM
Seems like many of his teammates have not gotten along with him over the years.

As long as he was dominant enough as a player to win championships, all the resentment was muted and muffled and pretty much kept under wraps.

And yeah, the last two years of the Washington BULLETS did look more or less like one long, self-choreographed "Ode to Michael" than developing a young contender. Despite all the accolades, and despite the display of a 40-year old performing at such a high level, the team still looks pretty mediocre.

I think this is not so much DESPITE MJ, but BECAUSE of him and Doug Collins trying to leverage his legacy into a BULLETS playoff appearance.

He was a great player. Not nearly as clear what his record will be as an exec.