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Jordan Starts 'Final Retirement'

April 17, 2003|From Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Jordan's coach pleaded with him to go back in the game, and the opposing coach made sure Jordan had the chance to end his career with a basket.

Jordan's last shot was a free throw, and like his final appearance in an NBA uniform, it was good.

One of the greatest players in NBA history played the final game of his illustrious career Wednesday night, not in the setting that he would have preferred but in a special atmosphere nonetheless. Jordan's final moment on the court ended with him receiving applause and a lengthy standing ovation from nearly everyone in the arena -- including the coaches and the other players.

He soaked it all up with a wide smile and a wave to the crowd after leaving for good with 1:44 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Washington Wizards' 107-87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

"Now I guess it hits me that I'm not going to be in a uniform anymore -- and that's not a terrible feeling," Jordan said afterward. "It's something that I've come to grips with, and it's time. This is the final retirement."

Jordan finished with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes -- drawing several adoring ovations from a sellout crowd.

With the 76ers ahead by 21 points with nine minutes left, the crowd began chanting, "We want Mike."

After some prodding from Coach Doug Collins, Jordan pulled off his warmups and re-entered with 2:35 left for a brief final appearance.

The 76ers had a couple of pregame surprises for Jordan, presenting him with a golf cart driven onto the court by Moses Malone and Julius Erving, then having longtime Chicago Bull public address announcer Ray Clay introduce Jordan with his familiar inflection of "From North Carolina ... "

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Jordan by the Numbers

*--* 1 NCAA title at North Carolina in 1982 2 Olympic gold medals in 1984, 1992 5 Times voted NBA's Most Valuable Player 6 NBA Championships (1991-1993 and 1996-1998) 6 NBA Finals MVP awards 10 NBA scoring titles 13 NBA All-Star games 30.1 Points per game, NBA's all-time leader in career scoring average

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