Rule No. 1 of playing for the Bobcats: try hard, but let owner Michael Jordan win when he challenges you to play one-on-one or H-O-R-S-E.
Rule No. 2: tell the media afterwards that the Greatest Of All Time can still hoop at a professional level.
Jordan, who will turn 50 in February, visited his team for a little instruction and shooting competition on Tuesday. Afterwards, Bismack Biyombo and Gerald Henderson told reports that MJ, who retired for the third time in 2003, still isn't washed up.
"He can still play the game, honestly," Biyombo said. "The way I've seen. I think he can still play the game if he want to. Just 50-years-old going after 25-year-olds. Playing as hard as he was playing. He's pretty good."
Henderson co-signed that sentiment in comments made to the Charlotte Observer.
“He’s the best ever to play and he’s still got that competitive nature. He always feels he can help you,” said team captain Henderson. “We played one-one-one. That’s always fun. He wants to win.”
How much does a 49-year-old Jordan have left? “He’s still got it. He can still shoot,” Henderson said. “I don’t know about his defense, but he can still score.”
Bobcats.com reported that Henderson said he "went even" with Jordan in a game of one-on-one, but Biyombo said Jordan "killed" Henderson.
In case you were wondering, the oldest player to play in the modern NBA was Kevin Willis, who suited up at age 44. The oldest currently active player is Knicks forward Kurt Thomas, who recently turned 40. The oldest player to ever appear in an NBA game was Nat Hickey, who played in a 1948 game when he was 45.
Biyombo's statement has me envisioning a nightmare scenario, where Lakers guard Kobe Bryant passes Jordan to move into No. 3 on the all-time scoring list next season before retiring when his current contract ends in July 2014. The ultra-competitive Jordan, needing only a few hundred points to re-pass Bryant, then dusts off the old Nike's to reclaim his spot on the charts, setting off an endless chain reaction of comebacks between the two players. Good thing that will never happen. (Hopefully.)