Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tried to get Michael Jordan to team up with his Mavs Big Three of Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley before His Airness returned to play for the Washington Wizards.
Jordan ended his storybook career with the Chicago Bulls in 1998 with one of the most iconic shots in NBA history. MJ fanatics would rather not remember the time he came out of retirement for the second time and rejoined the league in 2001 with a forgettable tenure with the Wizards.
“The day he signed with the Washington Wizards to come back, David Falk — that’s right when I was buying the Mavs — said ‘why don’t you go meet him?’” Cuban said. “So I went to David Falk’s office and all the papers were right there. And I was trying to convince MJ to not sign them and to do something with the Mavs.”
Obviously, that didn’t happen. But it’s hard not to play the what-if game in this scenario. In 2001, a year after Cuban bought the team, the Mavs were an up-and-coming squad with Nowitzki, Nash, and Finley leading the way. The trio, coached by the legendary Don Nelson, made Dallas one of the most exciting teams in the Western Conference and a perennial playoff squad.
Meanwhile, Jordan was still a productive player when he returned in 2001. At age 38 and 39, the six-time NBA champion produced at an All-Star-caliber level and averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in two seasons with the Wizards. Make no mistake about, MJ still had his GOAT juices left in him.
Imagine slotting in Michael Jordan into that picture in Dallas, and who knows how far they could have gone. Still, would he have accepted a lesser role with Nowitzki and Nash blossoming as stars at that point? We will never know.