25 years of Chicago: Amplified
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His Airness Says Farewell

Michael Jordan

Explore the moment.
When Michael Jordan was introduced before his final game at the United Center in 2003, the standing ovation lasted more than three minutes. The crowd wouldn't rest until Jordan - wearing a Washington Wizards jersey - was handed a microphone and delivered a farewell address. WBEZ Sports Contributor Cheryl Raye-Stout landed an exclusive interview with Jordan before the game.
It was a good run. Good runs have to come to an end.
2m 37s
Cheryl Raye-Stout:

You've had such an interesting road: Retiring a couple of times, playing baseball, doing everything you've done for Nike. Is there anything that you wish you could have changed or had done differently?

Michael Jordan:

No. I wouldn't change one thing. I would keep it the way it is. The disappointments, along with the good things. I'm afraid if I would change one thing it would alter the enjoyment I feel right now about my whole career.

2m 56s
Cheryl Raye-Stout:

What do you have to say to the fans of Chicago on your legacy and everything here that they've meant to you and you've meant to them?

Michael Jordan:

I love them. They don't know how much they inspired me to play. And how they kept me motivated. And how they helped my career just prosper. I wish I could play forever in front of them. But good things come to an end but the memories live on. And I'll never forget them.

3m 58s
Looking Back: Cheryl Raye-Stout

I covered Jordan from the beginning of his career to when he retired, when he came back, and then when he retired again and went on to the Washington Wizards. So his whole arc of his career I've been very much involved with Jordan and his career here in Chicago and elsewhere. In fact he would always give me one-on-one interviews anytime I asked. I broke the stories about Michael Jordan coming back to the NBA and also the story about him playing baseball.

I've always had a connection to him that way. I knew a lot of sources around him. I had a very good rapport with him. So when he came to town that last visit, the media relations person was going to stop me and Michael stopped him and said, "No. She's good." And he allowed me to sit down.

He was always very good to me. I was one of the only people that didn't rip him when he decided to play baseball. When I broke that story I thought it was quite intriguing, and we had a lot of talks about baseball even before he went to play. That's why we had a good rapoport. And he had stopped talking to a lot of the media for the way they attacked him for trying to play baseball.

So when he came to Chicago and he saw me, the media person tried to stop me. Michael said, "No." And I went and sat down in the locker room at the United Center. And we just chatted like we always did.

This was his last game at the United Center. He only had 11 points that night. He was very emotional. In fact that night I went by the PA announcer as he did the announcement of Jordan, and Jordan you could see his eyes well up. It was a very emotional night for him. He knew this was his last time playing. He had said this was going to be it. He could no longer move the way he could. The team he was playing with wasn't very good.

We always said the United Center was "the House that Michael Built."

There's no two ways about it. Yes it took Bill Wirtz and Jerry Reinsdorf to get the money, but the popularity of Michael Jordan was the reason that the United Center was able to be built the way it was.