Michael Jordan Cried and Was Nervous Before His 1st Game With the Bulls Out of Retirement Since His Father Wasn’t Alive: ‘I Just Felt Naked Because My Father Just Wasn’t There’

On March 19, 1995, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan played his first game after coming out of retirement. The Bulls took on the Indiana Pacers at Market Square Arena in one of the most high-profile regular-season games in NBA history.

When the Bulls landed in Indiana, Jordan was the last one to get off the plane. The superstar’s best friend, George Koehler, went on the plane to check on MJ and saw the Bulls icon crying. Jordan was not only nervous about playing in the NBA again, but he was also missing his father.

Michael Jordan: I felt naked without my father

In Episode 8 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries, Jordan talked about his emotions in his first game out of retirement. It was the first time in his life he played a basketball game without his father.

“I was nervous ’cause I hadn’t played competitive in a long time,” Jordan said. “And I just felt naked because my father just wasn’t there. So different.”

Jordan wore No. 45 instead of No. 23 when he came back in 1995. After gathering his emotions, the MVP was ready for battle against the Pacers. However, he didn’t play well.

Michael Jordan was dreadful against the Pacers

Jordan played 43 minutes versus the Pacers and was incredibly rusty. He scored 19 points and shot 7-of-28 from the field, 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. His Airness also had three turnovers.

The Pacers defeated the Bulls by a final score of 103-96, dropping Chicago to 34-32. It was unrealistic to expect Jordan to play well in his first game back. However, no one could have envisioned him shooting 25.0%.

Jordan played the final 17 games of the 1994-95 season. He averaged 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. The Bulls went 13-4 and finished the campaign with a 47-35 record. They defeated the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1995 playoffs, setting up a date with the Orlando Magic in the conference semifinals.

Although the Bulls were a confident group heading into the Magic series since they had Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Orlando proved to be too much for them.

Magic beat Bulls in six games

The Magic humbled Jordan by defeating the Bulls in six games. Even though Superman averaged 31.0 points while shooting 47.7% from the field, he ran out of gas in Game 6 since he wasn’t in elite basketball shape. The UNC product played baseball in 1994 as a way to honor his late father and didn’t have enough time to get back into basketball shape for the Magic series.

Jordan only lost one playoff series from 1991 to 1998. In the summer of 1995, he used his loss to the Magic as motivation to get back on top of the basketball world by training on the Space Jam set. Jordan played revenge basketball in 1995-96 and led the Bulls to 72 wins. The Hall of Famer won his fourth MVP Award and eighth scoring title.

It’s almost as if the basketball gods wanted to see Jordan get vengeance on the Magic. Orlando and Chicago met in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls swept the Magic in four quick games and advanced to the Finals, where they faced the Seattle SuperSonics.

Not only did Chicago beat Seattle to capture the 1996 championship, but Jordan also won his fourth championship and fourth Finals MVP on Father’s Day. Just like he did on March 19, 1995, Jordan cried, except these were happy tears.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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