After winning his third straight championship in 1993, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan retired from the NBA and decided to play baseball. The superstar shooting guard tragically lost his father in the summer of 1993 and was no longer motivated to play basketball.
Many NBA pundits believe the Bulls could have won eight titles in a row if Jordan didn’t retire to play baseball. However, His Airness doesn’t think that would have happened.
Michael Jordan: ‘After our three-peat, the atmosphere on the team wasn’t the same’
After his father was murdered, Jordan retired from the NBA and played baseball for the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A farm team of the Chicago White Sox. During the 1994 season, he batted .202 and hit three home runs while driving in 51 runs.
The Bulls didn’t win the championship in 1993-94 sans Jordan. They also came up short in 1994-95 after MJ came back. The 10-time scoring champion told ESPN in 1998 that he doesn’t think the Bulls would have won it all in 1994 or 1995, even if he didn’t retire in 1993.
“People say if I hadn’t played baseball for a year and a half, we would be going for our eighth championship in a row,” Jordan said. “But I don’t think so. After our three-peat, the atmosphere on the team wasn’t the same.”
Jordan and the Bulls may not have won eight consecutive rings. However, winning six in eight years isn’t too shabby.
Michael Jordan led Bulls to six rings in eight years
Jordan and the Bulls dominated the ’90s. They won six championships in an eight-year span, capturing two three-peats.
After losing to the Orlando Magic in the second round of the 1995 playoffs, Jordan came back with a vengeance in 1995-96 and guided the Bulls to 72 wins and the title over the Seattle SuperSonics. Chicago also won the championship in 1997 and 1998 to cap off the second three-peat. Jordan won all six Finals MVPs during the two three-peats and prevented Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and John Stockton from winning rings.
The Bulls were an exhausted team after the third title in 1993, which is why Jordan told ESPN that he doesn’t think they would have won championships in 1994 and 1995. With the GOAT out of the picture in 1994 and unable to recapture his powers in 1995 after coming back, the player selected No. 1 overall in Jordan’s draft dominated the league.
Hakeem Olajuwon led Rockets to back-to-back titles
Hakeem Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995. The Rockets defeated the New York Knicks in the 1994 Finals and the Magic in the 1995 Finals. The Dream won both Finals MVPs, and he also took home the 1993-94 regular-season MVP.
Not only were Jordan and Olajuwon in the same draft class, but they are also two players who won MVP and DPOY in the same season. Only three players have accomplished that feat in NBA history: Jordan, Olajuwon, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
While Bulls fans will always wonder what could have been if Jordan didn’t play baseball, they certainly can’t complain. After all, no NBA franchise has won six titles in an eight-year span since the Chicago dynasty ended.