During the summer of 2001, Michael Jordan trained in Chicago to prepare for his comeback with the Washington Wizards. The Chicago Bulls legend played nonstop pickup games with NBA stars so he could get back into game shape.
One of the players who played with Jordan was Jamal Crawford, who was on the Bulls at the time. Not only did Jordan and Crawford never lose a game when they were teammates, but MJ showed the Michigan product how athletic and out of this world he was despite being 38 years old.
Michael Jordan jumped and caught full-court pass with only one hand and dunked the ball
During an appearance on the Knuckleheads podcast with former NBA forwards Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles, Crawford told the incredible story of Jordan catching a full-court pass from him with only one hand and dunking the ball afterward. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year couldn’t believe how athletic MJ was at 38.
“I remember one time I had the ball, and I threw it full-court,” Crawford said. “And I was like, ‘Damn, I threw that too far.’ Man, this man jumped up and grabbed it like a baseball mitt. Never touched it with his left hand too. One dribble and dunk. I couldn’t do that at 20.”
Richardson, who grew up in Chicago and developed a relationship with Jordan as well, told Crawford and Miles that His Airness’ hands were cheat codes because they were so big. Jordan’s large hands allowed him to grip and move the ball effortlessly, a gift he talked about in 1996.
Michael Jordan’s large hands helped him
In 1996, Jordan did an interview with Gene Siskel, and he talked about how his large hands helped him grip and move the ball like a paintbrush.
“I have a wide thumb away from my first finger, which gives me the grip of grabbing the ball and being able to move the ball,” Jordan said. “It’s like having a paintbrush. Being able to create. If you can move the ball and move your instrument, it’s very rare in this game. Dr. J (Julius Erving) did this. I have very long fingers. I can sense a good shot and a bad shot.”
Jordan is arguably the best mid-range shooter in NBA history. From 1996-97 to 1997-98 (the only mid-range stats available for Jordan during his Bulls tenure), the six-time champion shot an incredible 49.0% on shots 16 feet from the basket to the 3-point line. Jordan likely wouldn’t have had such a delicate touch around the basket and from the mid-range if he didn’t have large hards. He was truly blessed with several athletic traits that helped him become the NBA legend he is.
The summer of 2001 was beneficial for Jordan since he got back into basketball shape after not playing in the NBA in 1998-99, 1999-00, and 2000-01. Although the Wizards missed the playoffs both years he was on the team, Jordan still put up solid individual numbers at the age of 38, 39, and 40.
MJ averaged 21.2 points in 142 games with the Wizards
Jordan appeared in 142 games with the Wizards. Although he only shot 43.1% from the field, the five-time MVP did average 21.2 points. He also scored 51 points in 2001 against the Charlotte Hornets.
After the 2002-03 season, Jordan retired from the NBA for good and was fired as the Wizards’ top-decision maker. Despite only playing in 142 games with Washington, Air Jordan is ninth in franchise in points per game.
Jordan finished his iconic NBA career as the all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating. He also wowed players and fans with his legendary ball fakes, and he has his large hands to thank.