“Rip Hamilton is the one scoring for the Wizards, not Michael Jordan”: How a 39 year old MJ schooled an overconfident Vince Carter in the second half

Michael Jordan turned up in the second half against Vince Carter, rendering him scoreless after he dropped 23 in the first half. 

Michael Jordan had been retired from the game of basketball for over three years by the time he made his return to play for the Washington Wizards in ‘01-02. Coming off his 6th Finals MVP and perhaps the greatest shot in NBA history, MJ was undoubtedly still in the uppermost echelon of superstars in the league. 

Well, that was until it became apparent that ‘Father Time’ might’ve caught up to Jordan. He was clearly not as explosive but was just as smart if not smarter. He operated in the low-post, perfected his turnaround jumper, and relied on savvy cuts to remain effective with his efficiency going down as the games went by.

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One of the first games NBA fans bore witness to where Michael Jordan showed flashes of his Chicago Bulls self was a game against the Toronto Raptors. 

This bout on December 16th, 2001 wasn’t one where ‘His Airness’ went off for 45 or so points like he used. Instead, the mentality with which he approached the game when it came to Vince Carter was what was reminiscent of the old MJ. 

Michael Jordan allows Vince to get off merely 4 shots in the second half. 

Prior to the game, Vince was asked about having to guard Michael Jordan. He revealed that he wouldn’t be guarding him and that Rip Hamilton was more of a problem than MJ. 

“He’s not guarding me and I’m not guarding him. Right now, I have to worry about Richard Hamilton. He’s the one’s who’s actually doing the job for the team as far as putting points up,” said VC.

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He wasn’t wrong as Rip dropped a light 27 points that night. What was more spectacular than that was that Carter had himself 19 points in the opening period and ended the first half with 23 points. 

Jordan took it upon himself to lock up Vince Carter and rendered him scoreless, making him go 0-4 on FGAs. The reason for why he took up the defensive assignment was because Hamilton was frustrated with having to guard VC as he couldn’t get it done on that end. 

“It took me a whole quarter to understand what his tendencies are and how I could take his rhythm away,” said the 6x champ about VC. Well, it worked and the Wizards ended up winning that game, pushing their winning streak to 6. 

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