Michael Jordan has been the face of basketball since his rookie season in 1984. That year, he led North Carolina to a national championship and established himself as one of the best players ever. He’s tallied five championships with the Chicago Bulls and retired in 2003 with 3360 points scored, third all-time on NBA history for career scoring average at 30 per game. If Michael Jordan had accepted Mark Cuban’s offer from 2001, taking him off their team permanently while still being able to use his name recognition for advertising purposes, it could have prevented a dynasty that would last until 2008 when LeBron James made his debut on an MVP-winning Miami Heat squad.,
Michael Jordan could have prevented an NBA dynasty if he accepted Mark Cuban’s offer in 2001. The Dallas Mavericks owner offered to trade the Chicago Bulls star to his team for a handful of players, including Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki. If Jordan had taken the deal, the Mavs would have been able to sign him to a contract that would have made them competitive for years.
Michael Jordan’s second NBA return was neither as enthusiastically received or as successful as his first. With his scoring exploits and hints of the player he once was, an aging Michael Jordan offered basketball the occasional thrill, but he did it on a forgettable Washington Wizards team with colleagues with whom he sometimes had a tense relationship. What if Mike played for a Western Conference team that was on the rise?
In 2001, Mark Cuban had only just purchased the Dallas Mavericks and was given the chance to sell his new franchise to His Airness. Jordan hung out with the Wizards, which made sense considering his past front-office experience. However, if Mike had been able to find a way to Washington, he may have prevented one of the greatest NBA dynasties in history.
Before Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in 2001, Mark Cuban met with him.
Michael Jordan felt compelled to return to competition before the 2001-02 season. a shade of green Mark Cuban thought that MJ would do so while dressed in blue and white.
Last year, Cuban disclosed (via Yahoo Sports) that he met Jordan on the day he signed with the Wizards. Mike’s agent, David Falk, proposed that the former Chicago Bulls star meet with Cuban.
“On the day he signed with the Washington Wizards to return, David Falk suggested, ‘Why don’t you go see him?’ That was precisely when I was purchasing the Mavs.” So I went to David Falk’s office and found all of the documents there. And I was attempting to persuade MJ not to sign them and instead work with the Mavericks.”
–Yahoo Sports, via Mark Cuban (2020).
All attempts to persuade Jordan to join the Mavericks were futile.
The six-time champion was most likely devoted to the Wizards. It’s hard to believe he’d be able to return in a simple fashion if it weren’t for his position in Washington’s front office.
Imagining Jordan in Dallas at that time is an interesting thinking exercise, given that the Mavs had a lot of youthful talent and were on the verge of being a top Western Conference contender.
Jordan may have had a shot to win with the Mavericks.
Michael Jordan (L) and Mark Cuban (R) | Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images and Paul Buck/AFP via Getty Images | Left to Right: Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images and Paul Buck/AFP via Getty Images
During the 2000-01 season, the Mavericks established themselves as a top up-and-comer in the Western Conference.
Dallas finished with a 53-game winning streak and advanced to the conference playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki lived up to his promise as an All-Star, averaging 21.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Juwan Howard, his frontcourt partner, averaged 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
The backcourt was just as good. Michael Finley, a Chicago native, averaged 21.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. Steve Nash quickly established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA, averaging 15.6 points and 7.3 assists per game while establishing himself as a top shooter, almost missing out on the 50-40-90 club until eventually attaining those marks later in his career.
Imagine Jordan being a part of that core.
Mike might have moved to the 2-guard position, and Finley to small forward. In Nash, he’d be paired with a genuine point guard and floor-spacer. In the post, Jordan and Nowitzki could have scared opponents.
Dallas would have had a lot of scoring potential and would have been a terrific size team. Jordan could have certainly encouraged competition and motivation among the younger players on the defensive end of the court, where the Mavs lacked grit. It could have been enough to put Shaquille O’Neal and a young Kobe Bryant on the defensive end.
A Dallas Mavericks squad led by Michael Jordan may have stopped the Los Angeles Lakers from becoming a dynasty.
At the turn of the 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers dominated the rest of the NBA.
Kobe’s meteoric rise to superstardom started in earnest in 2000, when the Lakers swept to a championship with Shaq playing at an MVP level. In 2001, the Purple and Gold won their second consecutive championship, winning 15-1 in the playoffs.
Phil Jackson’s squad had already established itself as a nascent dynasty, and Los Angeles solidified that image by winning three straight championships in 2001-02. However, the Lakers won a disputed seven-game series against the Sacramento Kings by a razor-thin margin. They may have also had their hands full with a Mavs team headed by Michael Jordan.
Dallas fell to the Kings in the NBA Playoffs in 2002, partly due to Nick Van Exel’s poor performance and failure to provide the Mavs with a scoring punch. If Van Exel were replaced by Michael Jordan, Dallas would have a much better chance versus Sacramento, especially if Jordan used his size against Mike Bibby, who dominated.
What about a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers? It would have been impossible to defend Shaq. However, Jordan may have had a part in at least wearing out Kobe, and Dallas is likely to have a significant edge on the wings and at the point.
Of course, all of this is hypothetical. It’s impossible to say if weariness had a factor in an aged MJ’s performance throughout the playoffs. He and the Mavericks, on the other hand, might have competed for a championship and thereby stopped the Lakers from completing a three-peat. That would have changed the history of the NBA.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: Before returning to the Bulls in 1995, Michael Jordan secretly practiced with the Warriors: ‘Once Michael got warmed up, it was clear that his goal was to essentially kick Spree and Tim in the shins.’
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