October 30, 2001 was a day of many firsts for Michael Jordan. Upon his second comeback to the NBA, it would be the first time “His Airness” would be playing against the rival New York Knicks as a player other than as a Chicago Bull. It would be the first time he put on the Washington Wizards blue away jersey. And for sneakerheads, it would be the first time he laced up a pair of the then-new Air Jordan XVII “College Blues” for an official NBA game.
14 years ago, it was setup to be a magical moment for MJ. A legend returning to the NBA hardwood to lead a young team he was involved with from the cellars to the penthouse. The first game back was at the iconic Madison Square Garden, where he had some of the most memorable games of his life. It was set up to be magical, but somehow it wasn’t.
However nice as the most expensive Air Jordan’s looked on the court and matched the Wizard’s uniform, it looked like MJ was losing the battle we all do–against Father Time. Three plus years off was shown during that game against Knicks. It didn’t seem the same as he airballed a shot in the first quarter. And it definitely didn’t feel right when he couldn’t hit shots in the fourth to keep the Wizards in the game. He finished with a solid state line of 19 points, six assists, and five rebounds. But shooting 7 for 21, missing all his 3 point attempts and have a plus/minus of -9 was not something we were used to.
It was only game 1 of his Wizards career but something wasn’t right. Somehow, blue just didn’t have the same magic as black and red.