Okay, I admit it, Jordan is still the best

Emily Arthur

As hard as it is for me to admit it, I was wrong.

Even more wrong than the time I guaranteed former Duke star Trajan Langdon would be a star in the NBA. He’s now riding the bench in Cleveland.

I made an even bigger mistake than the time I said the ISU men’s basketball team would beat Hampton by at least 20 points in the NCAA tournament. We all know how that went.

Rarely a day goes by when I don’t hear, “Did you see what he did last night?” or “That didn’t look like an old man.”

I’ve watched in horror as he’s brought a horrible team to a respectable level, and I’ve wished at times I wasn’t witnessing some of the brilliant moves he’s put on display.

The man I’m talking about?

None other than Michael Jordan.

I’ll admit it, I was the first to say that he shouldn’t come back. There was no way he could be successful in the NBA competing with those almost half his age.

The man is old in basketball age, ancient. He shouldn’t be able to even run down the court twice, let alone shoot a layup while he’s doing it.

Or so I thought.

Sure, Jordan’s comeback started a little rocky (much to my delight).

His Washington Wizards began the season 3-10, Jordan looked rusty and his teammates just stood around and watched Jordan looking rusty.

The start to the Wizards season even had Jordan exclaiming, “We stink.”

And that they did.

But after winning 15 of their next 19 games, they didn’t look so bad. And neither did Jordan.

After a dismal six-point, 2-for-10 performance in late December, Jordan rebounded and averaged 33 points over his next five games, including point totals of 51 and 45.

And although there’s still many games to be played and many wars to be waged, Jordan doesn’t seem to be wearing down.

Throughout the month of December, he averaged 25.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

In January, 26.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. And while his turnovers per game did go up (2.9 to 3.8), so did Jordan’s field-goal percentage (.419 to .427).

Not bad for a guy that turns 39 on Sunday.

Only four active players are older than Jordan: Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Willis, Patrick Ewing and John Stockton.

To put that in perspective, out of those four, only Stockton is averaging over 10 points per game (12.3).

Jordan’s numbers, on the other hand, are worthy of MVP consideration (25.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists).

But perhaps the greatest part of Jordan’s comeback is the way his teammates have rallied behind him.

The same players who stood around and watched Jordan take shot after shot are now buying into what he’s been telling them. They’re playing as a team and looking good doing it.

When not injured, Rip Hamilton has looked like the player he was supposed to be coming out of college. Brendan Haywood has had a solid rookie season, and the Wizards are getting role players to step in and do what it takes to win.

Washington is looking like a playoff team, and Jordan is looking like its most valuable player.

Jordan has responded to his critics, myself included, by saying “I told you so,” and he’s done so by looking like one of, if not the best, player in the league.

Damn was I wrong. Dead wrong.

Emily Arthur is a junior in journalism and mass communications from Clark, S.D. She’s the assistant sports editor of the Daily.