Michael Jordan believes that the Washington Wizards "used" him and said he never would have returned to basketball in 2001 if he had known that owner Abe Pollin wasn't going to allow him to return to his position as team president.
In an interview with "60 Minutes," which will air Sunday on CBS, Jordan said that getting fired was an especially painful experience considering the moves he made to make the Wizards profitable. "I didn't have to" come back, Jordan said. "But I did it with the benefit of trying to help an organization to get back on their feet. And the gratitude that was given? It was, 'Your service is no longer wanted or needed.' So I felt like I was used in a sense."
Jordan served as the Wizards' president of basketball operations for 11/2 seasons, making such moves as trading Juwan Howard and Richard Hamilton, drafting Kwame Brown with the No. 1 overall pick and signing Larry Hughes. At age 38, Jordan came out of retirement to play two seasons in Washington that proved to be more successful at the turnstiles than on the basketball court. The Wizards sold out every home game that Jordan played and his jersey was among the league's top sellers, but the team never made it to the playoffs.
Jordan fully expected to run the basketball team when his playing career ended, but Pollin informed him at a meeting on May 7, 2003, that Pollin was going in a different direction -- a move Jordan said caught him completely off guard. "If that was the case, I obviously wouldn't have gone back to play," Jordan said. "I felt like I played injured, I went through surgery and I did the things that a lot of these young kids did not do."
In the interview, Jordan also discusses his gambling. "Yeah, I've gotten myself into [gambling] situations where I would not walk away and I've pushed the envelope," he said.
Jordan, 42, said he could still make a contribution to an NBA team. "Even though, physically, I can't do it, the mind says, 'Yeah, I can still do it,' and I still think I can do it better than most in the NBA," said Jordan, who is promoting his new book, "Driven From Within."
-- Michael Lee