What if I told you 1998 may have been Michael Jordan’s last season with the Chicago Bulls, but it was not his last season in the NBA? It seems as though the 1998 season was not Jordan’s last dance, even if people thought it was at the time. In 2001 Jordan came back as a player with the Washington Wizards after a brief time as head of the team’s basketball operations.
Michael Leahy’s book, When Nothing Else Matters, takes a critical look at Jordan’s time with the Wizards while Leahy worked as a staff writer for the Washington Post.
Leahy definitely had strong opinions about Jordan’s comeback. At one point when Jordan said that he’d returned to basketball, “for the love of the game…and to teach,” Leahy wrote, “Jordan’s comeback was always more complicated than that. He didn’t love the game so much, after all, that he hadn’t left it twice already…”
I did enjoy this book. The reports in it seemed legitimate and very insightful. It seems critical of Jordan at times but I did not find the book mean-spirited. It mentions that Jordan pushed players hard and might have pushed Kwame Brown, the first high school player picked number one over-all in the NBA draft and Jordan’s very own pick, too hard.
Leahy also notes that Jordan’s relationships with most of the younger players, like former all-star Jerry Stackhouse and Brown, were rough and borderline cruel. This was partly due to Jordan’s age, being that he was 38 when his comeback started, and several players on the team were in their early 20s. Jordan matured into the player he was during a bygone era of NBA basketball. Physicality was the name of the game back then, and now he was having to drag along a, “sensitive” group of youngsters. Also, Jordan had worked in a front office and expected to return to that role when his playing days ended.
When Nothing Else Matters by Michael Leahy can be found at McAllen Public Library here.