Basketball legend Michael Jordan played the last home game of his National Basketball Association career, Monday night, here in the nation's capital. Before the game, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld presented him with a large American flag that flew over the Pentagon on September 11, 2002, one year after the terrorist attacks.
Every single game Michael Jordan played here at the MCI Center, during his two seasons with the Washington Wizards, was a sell-out. And the fans made sure they sent him off with something to remember. When Jordan came out of the game with about two minutes to play and another Wizards' loss ensured, they rose to their feet and remained standing and cheering until the final buzzer. "They really didn't have to do it, you know, but they did it. The fans here have been very supportive," Jordan said. "I have represented them for two years; three years in terms of one in the front office and two in uniform. But I've played in front of them quite a few times. And they've shown me respect by being at every game. You know, 82 games, 82 sellouts. You know, there's no need for what they did today, but they did it and I greatly appreciate it."
Michael Jordan led the Washington Wizards in his final home game, with 21 points and eight rebounds. But it was the New York Knicks who won, 93-79. The game was meaningless, because both teams were eliminated from playoff contention last week.
It was a huge disappointment for Wizards' fans. Jordan had left Washington's front office, coming out of his second retirement from the Chicago Bulls, where he won six league titles, to try to get a struggling Washington franchise into the playoffs. But it was not to be. Jordan will play his final regular season game Wednesday night in Philadelphia, against the playoff-bound 76ers.