On January 4, 2003, the Wizards hosted the Indiana Pacers at the MCI Center. Not only did Jordan score 41 points at the age of 39, but he also called Pacers forward Al Harrington a “h*e” during the game as his way of imposing his will.
Harrington wasn’t surprised that Jordan was bad-mouthing him since the Chicago Bulls legend is one of the fiercest trash-talkers in NBA history. However, he was a little stunned to see the compassionate gesture His Airness completed after the game.
Michael Jordan scored 41 points on Al Harrington
Vintage Jordan made an appearance for the Wizards on January 4, 2003, against the Pacers. The six-time Finals MVP scored 41 points while shooting 14-of-26 from the field, 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and 10-of-12 at the free-throw line in 52 minutes of action. Jordan also recorded 12 rebounds.
Harrington had a stellar game for the Pacers. He finished with 33 points off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to lead Indiana to victory. Washington outscored the Pacers 8-5 in overtime to win by a final score of 107-104. Despite being 39, Jordan led the Wizards in scoring and played the most minutes.
During the contest, Jordan called Harrington a “h*e” several times. The Pacers wing expected the six-time champion to verbally abuse him since everyone in the NBA knew MJ was a vicious trash-talker. However, Harrington didn’t see the gift he received from Jordan after the game coming his way.
Michael Jordan sent Al Harrington signed pair of shoes
Harrington told Shannon Sharpe that after his battle with Jordan in 2003, the Bulls icon sent him a pair of signed shoes with a special message.
“After the game, he signed some shoes and sent it to me after the game,” Harrington said. “It was like, ‘Best wishes, keep playing hard.’ And I didn’t even ask him for them. So for me, it was like, you know, I grew up a Knick fan, but obviously everybody … you gotta like Michael Jordan at the end of the day. It was a surreal moment for me, but at the same time, I went out there, and I competed against him.”
It sounds like Jordan respected Harrington for not backing down against him and playing hard. The six-time champion was a vigorous competitor on the hardwood, but he was a nice guy off the court and showed that soft side by signing some shoes for Harrington and giving them to him.
Jordan’s two years in Washington were filled with more downs than ups. However, the 14-time All-Star still put up numbers that healthy and young players dream of producing.
MJ averaged 21.2 points with the Wizards
In 142 games with the Wizards, Jordan averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists while shooting 43.1% from the field and 80.5% from the free-throw line. In 2001-02, he scored 51 points against the Charlotte Hornets. His highest-scoring game in 2002-03 came versus the New Orleans Hornets when he dropped 45.
Jordan only played two seasons with the Wizards, but he’s eighth in franchise history in points per game. He wasn’t as efficient as he was with the Bulls, but the five-time MVP still knew how to put the ball in the basket.
Harrington will likely always cherish his matchup against Jordan in 2003 and the signed pair of shoes he received. You can see by his expression during his interview with Sharpe just how much Black Jesus meant to him and how significant the signed shoes were.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.