Jordan finishes with 15 points in final NBA game

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Michael Jordan sat on the bench, smiling and

joking with teammates as the sellout crowd chanted, "We want Mike!

"We want Mike!''

Michael Jordan scored the final point of his career on a free throw in the fourth quarter.
Michael Jordan scored the final point of his career on a free throw in the fourth quarter.

Though he didn't want to go back in, Jordan wouldn't disappoint

the fans in the final game of his NBA career.

Jordan pulled off his warmups, received yet another lengthy

ovation, went back on the court, and was purposely fouled by Eric

Snow. Fittingly, Jordan made his final two shots -- both free


One of the greatest players in NBA history, Jordan then exited

for good with 1:44 remaining in the fourth quarter of Washington's

107-87 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Another standing ovation followed, this one including the

coaches and other players. Jordan flashed his familiar wide smile, waved to the crowd and took a seat on the bench one last time.

"It's time to move on,'' Jordan said. "It's easier to accept

that because physically I know it and feel it.''

Jordan finished with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists

in 28 minutes -- drawing several adoring ovations from a Philly

crowd notorious for its boorish behavior.

The fans did boo, but only when they thought Jordan wasn't

coming back into the game. He went to the bench with 4:13 left in

third quarter, and didn't return until 2:35 remained in the game.

With the Sixers ahead by 21 points and 9½ minutes left, the

chants of "We want Mike!'' started. The chant grew louder as the

period progressed with Jordan remaining seated, and fans ignored

the game to stand and stare at the Wizards' bench, wondering why

Jordan wasn't playing.

"The game didn't merit me going back in,'' Jordan said.

"Obviously, they wanted to see me make a couple of baskets. That

was very, very respectful.''

While the fans implored Jordan to return, Wizards coach Doug

Collins pleaded with him.

"He really didn't want to, but I said, 'Michael, please, you

got to go out there,''' Collins said.

Jordan's final points almost looked scripted, with Snow fouling

him in the backcourt for no apparent reason except to send him to

the line.

"Coach (Larry Brown) told me to foul him, get him to the line

to get some points and get him out of there,'' Snow said.

After both foul shots went in, the Wizards committed a foul a

second later so that Jordan could be removed from the game and

receive the proper send-off. In a rare scene, the players on the

court turned to Jordan and applauded, too.

The 40-year-old Jordan would have preferred to end his career in

the playoffs, but the Wizards never clicked during his two years in

Washington and finished 37-45 in both seasons.

But that was merely a footnote on a stirring night in which the

basketball public watched one of the greatest athletes in history

playing the game one final time.

Jordan finished his career with 32,292 points -- the

third-highest total in league history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

and Karl Malone. Jordan's career average of 30.12 goes down as the

best in NBA history, just ahead of Wilt Chamberlain's 30.07.

"I never, never took the game for granted. I was very true to

the game, and the game was very true to me. It was just that

simple,'' Jordan said.

Earlier in the game, Jordan showed his age.

There was a play in the first quarter when he looked like the

Jordan of old, except for the result. Starting near the foul line,

Jordan ducked his shoulder, lowered his head, stuck out his tongue

and drove to his right, the ball rolling off his fingers ever so

softly as it arched toward the net.

Rather than going in, though, the ball hit the front rim and

missed -- one of several of his shots that came up a few inches


One of the exceptions was Jordan's final shot of the first half

-- a one-handed dunk that came after he received a nice pass under

the basket from Bobby Simmons.

Jordan hit his first two shots of the third quarter but didn't

do much else positive in the period. On an alley-oop pass from

Tyronn Lue, the ball hit him in the fingertips and bounced

harmlessly away. A lazy cross-court pass was picked off by Aaron

McKie, leading to one of Philadelphia's 31 fast-break points.

Jordan's final field-goal attempt was a missed layup with 8:13


"I'm not embarrassed,'' Jordan said, "but it's just not ...

I've had better feelings in terms of playing a competitive game.''

Allen Iverson scored 35 points as the Sixers clinched home-court

advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They open against New

Orleans on Sunday night.

Many people in the crowd wore Jordan replica jerseys, including

one small boy in an oversized black Bulls jersey who wasn't looking

when Jordan, about to inbound the ball, tussled his hair as the boy

walked along the sideline. When the child turned around, he was


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 Bulls public

address announcer Ray Clay introduce Jordan with his familiar

inflection of "From North Carolina ...''

Game notes

Referee Tommy Nunez, 64, worked his final regular-season

game. He has been an NBA official for 30 seasons. ... Keith Van

Horn (strained left foot) and Derrick Coleman (thigh strain)

returned for Philadelphia.