In the June 26 issue of ESPN The Magazine, the discussion surrounded comebacks. How do the comebacks of some of the biggest names in sports stack up? Let's take a look.
Which comeback was greater, Jordan's first or his second?
Whatever your metric of choice, it's clear: Early Jordan (1984-93) trumped Middle Jordan (1995-98). Early MJ got to the line more (.385 FT rate vs. .346), was a more efficient scorer and had more steals and blocks. Counter to the notion that he came to trust his teammates as he aged, Early MJ even had more assists (a career-high 8.0/game came in 1988-89) than Middle MJ did. Which is all to say: MJ was slightly worse during his first comeback than the greatest player of all time. -- Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider
Jordan's second comeback, in 2001, was unprecedented. No perimeter player in NBA history has scored more points at ages 38 and 39 than MJ. (And not for nothing, only Kevin Durant played more minutes this season than the 39-year-old Jordan did in 2002-03.) The Wizards had just 19 wins in 2000-01, before His Airness arrived; they had 37 victories in each of his two seasons. But don't trust us -- trust metrics: The Wiz were three points better per 100 possessions with Jordan creaking and crawling down the floor. -- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Insider