Michael Jordan was paid $30 million in one year, but did you know Jordan also got a gift from an unlikely source? In 1997, Michael Jordan was finishing up his final season in the NBA, and he was also finishing up his last season with the Washington Wizards. It was then that Michael Jordan received a very special gift from an unlikely source, a gift that would save the Wizards franchise.
After reading the Washington Post article on the MJ-Vin service, many of you may feel that the story is too unbelievable to be true. To present these facts to you, we thought we would take the story to the next level and present it to you with an assist from a more credible source.
In an episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas recounts receiving something from Michael Jordan at the end of Jordan’s final NBA season, something that was a fitting end to the two’s relationship.. Read more about isiah thomas pistons and let us know what you think.
Michael Jordan made his 13th and last NBA All-Star Game appearance in 2003, a game in which he averaged 20.2 points and was voted MVP three times throughout his career. Although MJ was a 14-time All-Star, he was forced to skip the 1986 game due to a fractured foot. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Jordan was in the starting lineup every time he appeared in those 13 games, as one would anticipate. That was not intended to be the case in 2003, when MJ failed to earn enough fan votes to make the Eastern Conference starting five for the first time ever. He was selected as a reserve after finishing third in the guard voting behind Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson.
Perhaps he was only brought to the squad because everyone knew that 2002-03 would be his last season in the NBA, but he did have a good season with the Washington Wizards, averaging 20 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Whatever the case may have been, Jordan was an All-Star who looked happy simply to be there.
Naturally, many fans hoped that someone would step up to fill Jordan’s place so that he could start his last All-Star Game. Some even attempted to do so, but MJ turned them down. On the day of the game, though, Vince Carter effectively pushed Jordan’s hand, with a little assistance from an unexpected source: Jordan’s lifelong nemesis, Isiah Thomas.
Before the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson attempted to give up their starting positions to Michael Jordan, but he refused.
Jordan received 1,082,909 votes in the fan poll for the guard position in the East, as previously stated. Iverson got 1,155,897 votes, while McGrady received 1,316,927. Carter, who got the second-most votes in the East with 1,300,895, Jermaine O’Neal, and Ben Wallace were also in the initial starting lineup for the East.
McGrady, who was leading the league in scoring at the time with 30.4 points per game, and Iverson, in a private phone conversation with His Airness, both openly volunteered to give up their spots to Jordan. Jordan, on the other hand, turned down every offer.
Carter, who was already under fire for getting voted into the game at all since he’d only played in 10 games for the Raptors when the starters were named due to injuries, was often questioned whether he’d give up his place to Jordan as the game approached. And he insisted on staying in the starting lineup, claiming that he owed it to the supporters who had voted for him, despite the fact that he knew a lot of people would be unhappy.
And Jordan agreed wholeheartedly with his choice (h/t The Undefeated).
“It’s a Catch-22 situation. Some supporters may be upset if he [Vince Carter] gives up his position. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.”
Vince Carter on Michael Jordan
Carter was adamant on starting the game even the day before it was scheduled to take place in Atlanta. The following day, though, everything changed.
With little prodding from Isiah Thomas, Vince Carter handed up his starting position to Jordan.
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Isiah Thomas, the Indiana Pacers’ head coach at the time and the Eastern Conference All-Stars’ head coach in 2003, understood precisely what Carter was going through. He was voted in as a starter for the East in 1987, but he had to give up his position to a retiring Julius Erving. Isiah was the first player in NBA history to start the All-Star Game in each of his first five seasons at the time, but he had to break his run to make room for Dr. J.
With the choice weighing heavily on Carter’s mind, Thomas spoke with him and shared his views on the subject, which may come as a surprise considering Isiah’s past with Jordan.
“Because it was Jordan’s last All-Star Game, I told Vince it would be a selfless gesture that I felt Jordan would appreciate.”
Isiah Thomas on giving up his starting position to Michael Jordan and what he said to Vince Carter about it
Carter approached Thomas on game day and informed him that he would be willing to give up his position. Jordan wasn’t informed about it until Carter told him in the pregame huddle shortly before introductions, so he and Isiah had some fun with it. Even then, MJ was adamant about not doing it. Carter eventually persuaded him to accept, but there was still time for more fun.
Isiah made sure Carter got his due while also paying tribute to Michael Jordan, who scored 20 points in his last NBA All-Star Game.
Jordan, Carter, and Isiah were aware that MJ would start the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, but the spectators in Phillips Arena were not. As a result, when Carter was introduced as the starting quarterback during pregame introductions, he was greeted with a chorus of boos. The audience erupted in applause when it was revealed that Jordan would take Carter’s spot in the starting lineup, and Carter flashed a brief grin. And it seems that Thomas was the one who came up with the concept.
“I felt it was critical that Vince be named and recognized as the starting quarterback. We may also commemorate Michael Jordan when he stepped down from his post. They both deserved to be recognized, in my opinion.
“It was a fantastic stand-up moment, and it said volumes to me about Vince Carter as a person and a man.”
At the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, Isiah Thomas commented on the Vince Carter/Michael Jordan introduction.
The All-Star Game itself was a nail-biter, as it was the first (and still the only) to go into double overtime. Jordan didn’t have a great shooting night, hitting only nine of 27 shots in 36 minutes, but he still managed to score 20 points. MJ scored a jumper with 4.8 seconds left in the first overtime to give the East a 138-136 lead, but Kobe Bryant sank two free throws with a second left on the clock after a Jermaine O’Neal foul to send the game into a second overtime. After then, the West pulled away for a 155-145 win. Kevin Garnett was voted MVP after scoring 37 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Carter, on the other hand, scored nine points in 25 minutes but walked away with so much more because he had a Michael Jordan tale to tell. Isiah has something going for him as well, but when Jordan and Isiah are mentioned together, there are usually a lot of other things going on. But maybe that’s one you didn’t know before and now do.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: By breaking John Stockton’s leg, Michael Jordan inadvertently created a dream team for Isiah Thomas.
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