Wizards Reporter Explains How David Stern, NBA Got Michael Jordan to Washington

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2020

WASHINGTON D.C. - JANUARY 19:  Abe Pollin, owner of the Washington Wizards poses for a portrait with Michael Jordan who was named President of Basketball Operations on January 19,2000 at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2000 NBAE  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NBAE via Getty Images)
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As basketball fans know, the 1997-98 season wasn't truly Michael Jordan's NBA swan song, and the league had a small hand in bringing Jordan back in a formal capacity.

Jordan became the Washington Wizards' president of basketball operations in January 2000 and gained an ownership stake in the franchise. Steve Wyche, who covered the team for the Washington Post, revealed some of the machinations that happened behind the scenes leading up to the move.

"The NBA wanted to find a way to get Michael involved, especially with a lack of diversity ownership in the NBA," Wyche said on the Wizards Talk podcast. "They approached Abe Pollin and the folks in Washington and said, 'Look, can Michael get in? It'll be an injection to a franchise we want to see succeed in the nation's capital.'"

Jordan then went a step further when he came out of retirement with the Wizards for the 2001-02 season.

His brief time in Washington was a disappointment as his contributions on the court and in the front office failed to get the franchise into the playoffs. Trading Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse and selecting Kwame Brown with the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft were two of Jordan's most famous missteps.

The Hall of Famer provided a momentary commercial boost for the Wizards, who finished 18th in attendance (15,576) in 2000-01 and climbed to second in 2001-02 (20,674) and 2002-03 (20,172).

It wasn't until after Jordan's firing in May 2003 the franchise started working its way toward contention.