2002–03 Washington Wizards season

2002–03 Washington Wizards season

Michael Jordan played his final season in pro basketball.

Offseason

NBA Draft

Round Pick Player Position Nationality School/Club Team
1 11 Jared Jeffries Forward Indiana
1 17 Juan Dixon Guard Maryland
2 38 Rod Grizzard Guard Alabama
2 39 Juan Carlos Navarro Guard FC Barcelona (Spain)

Regular season

Michael Jordan

Jordan announced he would return for the 2002-03 season, and this time he was determined to be equipped with reinforcements, as he traded for All-Star Jerry Stackhouse and signed budding star Larry Hughes. Jordan even accepted a sixth-man role on the bench in order for his knee to survive the rigors of an 82-game season. However, a combination of numerous team injuries and uninspired play led to Jordan’s return to the starting lineup, where he tried to rebound the franchise from its early-season struggles. The move led to mixed results, as several of Jordan’s younger teammates complained about playing in Jordan’s shadow and his unfair expectations of them . By the end of the season, the Wizards finished with a 37-45 record once again. Jordan ended the season as the only Wizard to play in all 82 games, as he averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals in 37.0 minutes per game.

After the season, Wizards' majority owner Abe Pollin fired Jordan as team president, much to the shock of teammates, associates, and the public. Michael Jordan felt he was betrayed, thinking that he would get his ownership back after his playing days ended, but Pollin justified Jordan's dismissal by noting that Jordan had detrimental effects on the team, such as benching Larry Hughes for Tyronn Lue, making poor trades, and squandering the teams' 2001 1st round draft pick on high schooler Kwame Brown who never panned out. Without Michael in the fold the following year, the Washington Wizards were not expected to win, and they didn’t. Despite the signing of future All-Star point guard Gilbert Arenas, the team stumbled to a 25-57 record in the 2003-04 season.

Jordan's stint with the Washington Wizards was closely watched by both fans and the media. While the team failed to qualify for the playoffs in either of Jordan’s two seasons as a player, the team was competitive and sold out arenas around the league.

The Wizards replaced Jordan's managerial role with coach Eddie Jordan and General Manager Ernie Grunfeld. The team's current roster only has two holdovers from the Michael Jordan era: Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood. The Grunfeld tenure has been widely lauded as successful. In particular, the trade of underachieving first round bust Kwame Brown for All-Star Caron Butler is considered to be one of the all time uneven trades in NBA history.

Season standings

Player stats

Note: GP= Games played; MPG= Minutes per Game; STL= Steals; RPG = Rebounds per Game; APG. = Assists per Game; BLK = Blocks; PPG = Points per Game
Player GP MPG STL RPG APG BLK PPG
Jerry Stackhouse 70 65 3.7 4.5 28 21.5
Michael Jordan 82 123 6.1 3.8 39 20.0
Larry Hughes 67 86 4.6 3.1 24 12.8
Tyronn Lue 75 47 2.0 3.5 1 8.6
Christian Laettner 76 82 6.6 3.1 40 8.3
Kwame Brown 80 50 5.3 0.7 80 7.4
Juan Dixon 42 26 1.7 1.0 3 6.4
Brendan Haywood 81 32 5.0 0.4 119 6.2
Etan Thomas 38 8 4.3 0.1 23 4.8
Bryon Russell 70 70 3.0 1.0 7 4.5
Jahidi White 16 1 4.6 0.1 12 4.2
Jared Jeffries 20 8 2.9 0.8 5 4.0
Bobby Simmons 36 10 2.1 0.6 3 3.3
Anthony Goldwire 5 0 0.6 0.2 0 2.6
Charles Oakley 42 13 2.5 1.0 6 1.8
Brian Cardinal 5 0 1.0 0.2 0 0.8

Award Winners

References

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