Michael Jordan will turn 50 years old on February 17, meaning he's less than a decade older than the oldest NBA player in the league today. Obviously there's no way he could come out of retirement and play in today's über-athletic NBA.
Or is there?
On the surface, it sounds like a bizarre thing to even think about, a quinquagenarian playing in the NBA.
The oldest player to ever lace up a pair of sneakers and play professionally, Nat Hickey, gave up the game in 1948, in a time when you could get away with pulling down a few cigs during halftime and playing until your knees fell off so long as you could hit an eight-foot set shot.
He was 45.
Aside from that, the dudes who usually last the longest are the seven-footers who are smart enough to play defense at the rim and mobile enough at an old age to stay on the court for four or five minutes at a time.
Even when there are guys playing into their 40s, it usually means they're buried on the bench, squeezing the last bit out of a solid NBA career. There's really nothing left to prove other than the fact that they can get another paycheck.
When talking about Michael Jordan, the only one of those criteria that he would really fall under would be that of guys with something to prove. It's not that MJ's career is necessarily incomplete, but there is something he said back when he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50. Oh, don't laugh. Never say never. Because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.
He's got the confidence, and he's even got a bit of love from a guy that played for the first team that Jordan worked for after he retired. Antawn Jamison pondered about the possibility with confidence that he'd be able to help out.
I wouldn't doubt that in the right situation with a LeBron (James) on his team or with a Kobe (Bryant) on this team, he could get you about 10 or 11 points, come in and play 15-20 minutes. I wouldn't doubt that at all, especially if he was in shape and injuries were prevented and things of that nature.
There are a lot of things that Jordan could come in and do. The assumption here would be that he's worked his way back into shape, his health isn't an issue and he's got that Michael Jordan desire to come in and be the oldest guy to play in the NBA.
Jordan has shown throughout his career that he would have the ability to specialize in a few areas, should he be forced to take on a non-dominant role in the league.
He's had three-point shooting years where he's come in and shot between 37 and 42 percent from the three-point line, he can make any mid-range jumper you could ever want him to, and in a slower-paced game, he could probably keep up with the slowest wing player on the opposition's second unit.
Gerald Henderson even said as much when Jordan attended a Charlotte Bobcats' practice earlier this season.
He’s still got it. He can still shoot. I don’t know about his defense, but he can still score.
There's no need to ask about who would want Jordan. What team wouldn't want to sign him if he's in the correct mindset. At the very least, he's bringing a veteran presence who will drive the team to get better while sitting on the bench.
Where Jordan would work best would be on a defense-heavy team that could overshadow whatever shortcomings he might have on defense.
Give him the ball a few times a game and see what he can do in an isolation situation against the other team's second unit. Either that, or teach him how to become a spot-up shooter playing from the wing.
Heck, if he's still got a bit of speed left in his old body, there's no reason to think that he can't slash a few times and throw down a few dunks. We already saw last year that he can still unleash a dunk if some young bucks start razzing him.
With that, you'd have to assume that there are a few specific teams who could use Jordan to some extent.
The Chicago Bulls would actually be one of the best fits, with or without Derrick Rose. They need somebody who can knock down jumpers, and he wouldn't be too exerted in spurts.
Otherwise, he would be able to fill a role with the slow-paced Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics or Indiana Pacers.
Plus, he could probably work out well with the San Antonio Spurs, if only because they can make any player work in any situation if given enough time on the floor.
Hell, if Jerry Stackhouse still has a role with the Brooklyn Nets, why couldn't Jordan carve out 15-20 minutes coming off the bench in a slow-paced offense?