Michael Jordan appeared in 1,072 games in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards spanning over 15 years. During that time, he won six titles, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, 10 scoring titles, and one Defensive Player of the Year Award.
For someone as competitive as Jordan was, not being able to win the championship every season must have been tough on him. However, surprisingly, the Bulls legend claimed he didn’t have any disappointments in the NBA.
Michael Jordan: “I haven’t had any disappointments”
“I haven’t had any disappointments,” Jordan said. “I mean, sports is a tool that teaches you bad things. It can also teach you good things. It’s how you perceive those things. I’ve looked at every experience that I’ve had, negative and positive, and taken that as a positive. I wouldn’t change anything because I think it would alter some of the other things that happened. When I look back, I can’t say that I’ve had any bad things happen. Sure, you don’t want bad things to happen, but you deal with bad things. You can’t have good without bad.”
When you go 6-0 in the Finals, it’s easy to say you didn’t have any bad things happen. Jordan led the Bulls to six titles in an eight-year span during the ’90s and established himself as arguably the greatest player in NBA history.
However, Jordan did experience a few setbacks during his legendary career, which helped him become the winner he was.
Michael Jordan lost to Pistons three straight years and got bounced by Magic in ’95
Before he won his first title in 1991, Jordan lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference playoffs three years in a row. The Bulls fell to the Pistons in the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals, and the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals.
In the summer of 1990, Jordan began taking weight training seriously and added several pounds of muscle to battle against the “Bad Boys.” The hard work clearly paid off, as the Bulls swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
Another hitch in Jordan’s career that ultimately added more fuel to his fire took place in the second round of the 1995 playoffs against the Orlando Magic. MJ wasn’t completely himself since he had been playing baseball for most of the year, and he struggled versus the Magic. As a result, the Bulls lost the series in six games. It was the only postseason series Jordan lost from 1991 to 1998.
Frustrated by seeing Horace Grant defeat him, Jordan went back to work in the summer of 1995 and got his body back into basketball shape on the Space Jam set. Not only did he re-establish himself as the best player in the world during the 1995-96 season, but Jordan led the Bulls to 72 wins and the ’96 championship over the Seattle SuperSonics.
As Jordan told Thompson, you can’t have good things happen in life without failure occurring. The 14-time All-Star used his losses as motivation and needed those negatives because they were useful learning lessons.
He didn’t win in Washington
Jordan missed the playoffs both seasons he played with the Wizards. Washington went 30-30 with MJ in the lineup in 2001-02 and 37-45 in 2002-03.
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 24.1% from beyond the arc. He had a few vintage games, scoring 51 points on December 29, 2001, against the Charlotte Hornets and 45 versus the New Orleans Hornets on February 1, 2003.
Even though it was strange not to see Jordan win with the Wizards, basketball fans were happy to witness him play basketball one more time. After all, you can make a case that Jordan is the most popular athlete of all time.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.