Michael Jordan’s career might seem like just a few years ago to those who remember him playing. After all, he was the face of basketball for many fans’ childhoods and continues to be a major part of the NBA’s culture as an owner and a figurehead for players to look up to.
It may come as a surprise, however, to find out that it has been 17 years since Jordan last stepped foot on an NBA court. Because of this, only a sparse amount of active players had the opportunity to play against him.
Barely missed the cut
Several players who played in the NBA up until recently got the opportunity to play against Michael Jordan. Dirk Nowitzki was drafted in 1998, just weeks after Jordan retired from the league as a Chicago Bull.
Fortunately for Nowitzki and every other name on that list, Jordan came back as a Washington Wizard, and while it was a maligned decision to many Jordan fans, it gave another generation of NBA players the chance to play against him.
A similar thing can be said about Tony Parker, who retired following the 2018-19 season. Zach Randolph played against Jordan as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers but officially announced his retirement in December after over a year without playing in an NBA game. Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, and Jamal Crawford are yet to officially retire but are likely done, as none are currently signed to an NBA team.
In all, only two players remain from Jordan’s playing days, and it is no surprise that both remain big names in their older ages.
Tyson Chandler played on Michael Jordan’s old team
Tyson Chandler was a young center for the Chicago Bulls in the years following the collapse of the Jordan Bulls when the team tried to find an identity and win without the face of the NBA. As a member of these struggling Bulls teams, Chandler had the distinct privilege of playing against Jordan as a member of the Bulls.
Michael Jordan won five of the six regular-season games he played against Chandler. Chandler might not have an extended history with Jordan, but he does provide the unique insights of someone who played against him, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant.
During his brief stint as a Los Angeles Laker in 2019, Chandler even said that James was the closest thing that he had seen to Michael Jordan in the NBA.
Vince Carter showed Michael Jordan some serious respect
Vince Carter is the NBA’s iron man. He has played in four different decades and remains a fan-favorite and player-favorite after 23 seasons in the league. Like Jordan, Carter was a college star at the University of North Carolina and like Jordan, he was known for his high-flying dunks both in games and in the Slam Dunk Contest. Carter barely missed Jordan’s Bulls career.
By the time Michael Jordan came back into the NBA as a Wizard, Carter was one of the most popular players in the league. He was so popular, in fact, that he was voted in as a starter in the 2003 All-Star game ahead of Jordan. Carter proudly gave up his starting spot to his idol before the game.
According to Carter, Jordan needed to be convinced to accept the offer. “I told him, ‘You’re taking this spot,” Carter told Aaron Dodson of The Undefeated. “He kept saying, ‘No, no, no. You earned it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but this is your last one. So you’re going to take the spot.'”
It was a memorable moment in Jordan’s last game, and Jordan put on a show for the fans. Now, 17 years later, Carter is in a similar situation as an aging superstar on his last legs.