As a league, the NBA was going through a significant change at the beginning of the 21st century. There was a change in the generation of players that were becoming the stars in the league. On top of that, the style of basketball was different than we remember from the ’90s. 2003 will, for the most part, will be recognized as the year Michael Jordan finally said his goodbye to the game of basketball after his short stint with the Washington Wizards.
Upon his retirement, Jordan reflected on the NBA’s state at that very moment and the up and coming players that were slowly but surely becoming superstars. Jordan named the guys like Garnett, Duncan, Bryant, McGrady as his successors, and players that are beginning to understand the importance of putting the team in front of the individual needs.
“The NBA is fine because you have a lot of young players who are starting to come to their own and learning more about their game and understanding the sacrifice of becoming team players. And learning how to do that in an organized structure. Guys like KG, Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Duncan. All these guys that I named have learned how to involve their teammates, and you still have some young players on the rising who will continue to do that. Those players are starting to understand that you don’t do it by yourself anymore. You have to involve other players. I have given everything to the game of basketball physically, and I can still contribute mentally.”Michael Jordan, via Pennyccw
What is interesting is that all of the players MJ mentioned in the interview have retired from the NBA. The last one playing is from that generation was Vince Carter, who spent 22 seasons in the NBA, which is the most in the entire league history. Most of these players achieved excellent greatness and won NBA championships, MVP’s and will be remembered as all-time greats. Jordan’s message is also something worth stressing out because basketball is a team sport, and there is no room for putting individual success in front of the team’s success.