Bob Costas: “No athlete in American team sports has ever had a better final act than what Michael Jordan had in 1998. I really believe in the minds of most people in the public’s imagination that that really was the end, and what happened with the Wizards is just a post-script. The story began in North Carolina and ended in Salt Lake City in June of 1998… A lot of people have said, and understandably, ‘WHAT THE HECK, JERRY KRAUSE WHAT COULD YOU BE POSSIBLY THINKING LETTING YOUR EGO AND INSECURITIES GET THE BEST OF YOU? WHY DID YO BREAK UP THE TEAM!?’ All of that is perfectly valid, but in my mind, it’s better that it ended the way that it did. Did you really want to see them ultimately lose at some point and he walks off the court having lost in the Finals or an earlier playoff series? We never really saw Michael Jordan ever age. For the purpose of legend and mystique it’s actually better that it ended there instead of going for a 7th or 8th.” (Full Interview Above)
Listen to broadcasting legend Bob Costas explain to Doug Gottlieb why he thinks Michael Jordan’s legacy was boosted by him retiring after the 1997-1998 season, instead of trying to continue on dragging out the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
Of course, Jordan spent two years with the Washington Wizards in the early-00’s, but Jordan’s stop in our nation’s capital was effectively forgotten given that the team was going nowhere anyway, and the fact that Jordan had extenuating interests in playing for the team.
Costas says that Jordan’s legacy as a basketball player remains immaculate because he didn’t stay until the bitter end with the Bulls, and says fans never got the sour taste of seeing Jordan’s Bulls ultimately get wiped out by a stronger team like dynasties like the Lakers, Celtics, and Pistons experienced in the 80’s and 90’s when their runs were extinguished. To Costas, Jordan never had the tragic chapter that almost every other superstar experiences.
Despite the Pistons appearing in three straight NBA Finals from 1988-1990, including back-to-back titles in 1988 and 1989, one of the most lasting images of that dynasties that is most synonymous with those 'Bad Boys' Pistons is the team walking out on the Bulls in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, and refusing to shake hands. Detroit's dynasty ended that night, and we will always relive the tragic images of their reign being overthrown. Jordan's Bulls obviously never had to endure that.
Check out the video above as Costas details why Jordan had the greatest final chapter in sports history.