Michael Jordan only missed the playoffs twice during his legendary career. Both occurrences came with the Washington Wizards.
During his two years with the Wizards, the Chicago Bulls legend — who was 38, 39, and 40 — wasn’t efficient on the offensive end and couldn’t lead Washington to the postseason. However, Jordan did make NBA history three times while playing in the nation’s capital.
Michael Jordan is oldest player to score 40 points in a game
During the 2002-03 season, Jordan scored 43 points against the New Jersey Nets on February 21, 2003, becoming the oldest player in NBA history to drop 40-plus points. He was 40 years and four days old.
The Wizards defeated the Nets by a final score of 89-86. Jordan shot 18-of-30 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line while grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists. The NBA icon also recorded four steals.
The 2002-03 season was Jordan’s final campaign in the NBA. He not only played in all 82 games, but he also accomplished another feat no 40-year-old has ever done.
Michael Jordan is oldest player to average 20.0 ppg
Jordan averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in 2002-03. He was 40 years and 58 days old on the final day of the regular season. MJ is the oldest player in NBA history to average 20.0 points in a season.
Jordan’s best game of the 2002-03 season took place on February 1, 2003. He torched the New Orleans Hornets for 45 points in 43 minutes while shooting 18-of-33 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. The six-time champion used his mastery of the mid-range game to destroy his defenders while he played for the Wizards since he could no longer dunk over everyone.
Washington went 37-45 in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Jordan came down from the front office to play because he thought he could help the players learn what it takes to win and be a good leader. However, the Wizards never got on track despite having the six-time Finals MVP on the roster.
Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein, who covered Jordan when he was on the Bulls, understands why fans may not have enjoyed watching Superman in Washington. However, he thinks it’s important that we don’t forget what Jordan did on December 29, 2001, against the Charlotte Hornets.
“Jordan’s stint on the Wizards is often derided for being aesthetically unpleasant and Jordanically unimpressive,” Silverstein said in 2020. “But hold on!”
MJ scored 51 points
Jordan turned back the clock against the Hornets in 2001 by scoring 51 points in 38 minutes. He became the oldest player ever to score 50-plus points in a game and held the record for 18 years.
During the 2018-19 season, Jamal Crawford scored 51 points against the Dallas Mavericks. He was 39 years and 20 days old. Jordan was 38 years and 315 days old when he went off for 51 versus the Hornets, the franchise he’s currently the majority governor of.
All in all, Jordan averaged 21.2 points in 142 games with the Wizards. While it wasn’t always pretty, and Washington missed the postseason, the 10-time scoring champion had a few vintage games and still etched his name in the history books.