Former NBA Star Gilbert Arenas Says Michael Jordan Threw Away a $10 Million Check From the Wizards During Their Acrimonious Breakup: ‘MJ Just Chucked It, Left the Building’
The world still embraces Michael Jordan for his Chicago Bulls career. He became one of the greatest players ever while wearing the red and back, and many players have even tried replicating what he did in Chicago.
However, the Washington Wizards version of MJ is not the one many people like to remember. Sure, he was still a good player, but he wasn’t the same Jordan that fans grew to love. His time in the nation’s capital was essentially a disaster.
In fact, during his breakup with the organization, the five-time MVP supposedly threw away a $10 million check the team tried to give him.
Michael Jordan had an underwhelming run with the Washington Wizards
After his historic run with the Bulls that ended in 1998, Michael Jordan became president of basketball operations and part-owner of the Wizards in 2000.
However, his time in the front office was less-than-stellar, as he made multiple questionable moves, including the selection of Kwame Brown with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft (which may or may not have been his decision).
Before the 2001-02 season, though, MJ made the biggest deal he could: He decided to return to the court to play for the Wizards.
But Washington’s losing ways didn’t just magically go away. After going 19-63 in 2000-01, the Wizards went 37-45 in both seasons MJ played for them. They also missed the playoffs in each of those years.
Jordan chose to retire from the court for good in 2003, and he planned to continue his front office job, but the organization decided to part ways with him altogether. According to a 2003 Associated Press report in CBS News, a source said the decision was based on “player dissension, a franchise faltering after the years of Jordan in charge, and deteriorating relationships throughout the organization.”
MJ threw away a $10 million check from the Wizards
Michael Jordan apparently wasn’t too happy about the Wizards essentially firing him.
Gilbert Arenas signed with D.C. the season after MJ left, and he ended up doing what Jordan couldn’t. Arenas became a star on the Wizards and led them to multiple playoff appearances.
However, while negotiating a contract with the team, he asked the front office about Jordan.
“[Former Wizards owner] Abe Pollin was like, ‘I love basketball. I love the players. So, I asked the players what did they want, and the players said they didn’t want Jordan back,’” the former All-Star recently recalled to DJ Vlad of VladTV.
Arenas said he’s a big Jordan fan, so he just wanted to know what happened between the two sides. But he then revealed that Pollin supposedly wrote Mike a pretty big check to thank him for his services, and the NBA icon refused to accept it.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, you know, I wrote MJ a check, $10 million dollars, said, “Thank you for your services.” MJ threw that check and said, “F*** off,” and drove out of the arena,’” Arenas said of his conversation with Pollin. “… MJ just chucked it, left the building.”
Having enough money to just throw away a $10 million check proves that Jordan isn’t just rich. He’s rich rich.
After his breakup with the Wizards, though, the 10-time NBA scoring leader found his way back into another team’s front office.
Michael Jordan is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets
Jordan eventually purchased another team, as he became the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets (previously the Charlotte Bobcats) in 2010.
This franchise has still struggled, though.
In the decade-plus that Jordan has spent as the Hornets’ majority owner, the team has only made the playoffs three times, and it lost in the first round each year. Charlotte has also had nine losing seasons during that time.
However, with young stars like LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, the Hornets have a chance to turn things around and become a stable pillar of the Eastern Conference. Jordan can finally rewrite the narrative surrounding his abilities as an executive.
No, Michael Jordan has not had nearly as much success in the front office as he did on the court with the Bulls. Everyone holds on to the image of him hoisting up Larry O’Brien Trophies in a Chicago uniform. But there’s still time for him to change the game, and guys like Ball and Bridges can help him become more than just a former player.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference