Gilbert Arenas had an interesting 2003 NBA offseason. After being selected in the second round two years earlier, Arenas put up monster numbers donning the Golden State Warriors jersey. Multiple teams were suddenly interested in his services, one of them being the Washington Wizards, who were also in negotiations with Michael Jordan.
In a recent interview, Arenas revealed what went on behind the scenes in Jordan’s last year with the Wizards. Apparently, the NBA icon was looking to return for a third season, but not everyone in the Wizards organization was for it.
“When I went there that was one of my questions. My dad’s question like ‘hey, what’s up with the Jordan thing? Why didn’t you sign him back?’. And Abe Pollin was like ‘I love basketball, I love the players. So, I asked the players what did they want. The players said they didn’t want Jordan back,” Arenas said, djvlad.
Vlad surmised that the team did not want him back because Jordan’s mindset was already different then. He wasn’t “Dream Team MJ” who wanted to win by any means. However, Arenas corrected him. While Jordan was in his 40s, he was still mentally tougher than most. And this intimidated the young guys on the roster at that time.
“You’re talking about MJ still. Mental MJ, too. The Last Dance MJ. The mentality. Those young kids wasn’t ready for. They’re looking at this icon who becomes this bad guy to them,” Arenas added.
Arenas is right. Jordan dealt with grown men in Chicago when he won all those titles. They were fully-formed professionals who understood what Jordan was doing up to a certain extent. Meanwhile, the Wizards were a rebuilding team back then. It was filled with young guns still adjusting to a new lifestyle. Jordan, the wisest of them all, could’ve helped them get through. But as Arenas pointed out, Jordan’s way of teaching is not necessarily for everybody.