Michael Jordan had two chances to leave the Chicago Bulls during his legendary run in the Windy City. However, the Hall of Famer re-signed with the Bulls both times despite his rocky relationship with general manager Jerry Krause.
In the summer of 1996, Jordan was an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Although there were rumors that he was close to signing with the New York Knicks to play with his friend Patrick Ewing, Jordan wound up signing a one-year, $30.1 million deal with the Bulls.
Jordan was a free agent once more in 1997, and he once again stayed with the Bulls. The superstar shooting guard had no interest in winning a championship with a team other than Chicago, and he even admitted that to his Flight School campers.
Michael Jordan: “No, I’m not coming to LA”
Jordan used to host his annual Flight School camp for kids in Santa Barbara, California. During a Q&A session with the kids one year, His Airness was asked if he had any desire to win a championship with another team, and the Bulls legend left no room for speculation.
“What team are you thinking about (crowd laughs)? No, I have never really thought about it,” Jordan said. “You know, I’ve always played in Chicago. I’d like to remain in Chicago. I’d like to keep winning championships in Chicago. No, I’m not coming to LA. No, I’m not going to Golden State. I’m sorry.”
Since the Flight School camp was in California, most of the campers were presumably Los Angeles Lakers or Golden State Warriors fans, and they certainly wanted Jordan to play for their favorite team since he was the best player in the NBA. However, both times MJ was a free agent, he re-signed with the Bulls on one-year deals and delivered championships.
Michael Jordan won a title both years after re-signing
As aforementioned, Jordan signed a one-year, $30.1 million deal with the Bulls in the summer of 1996 after winning his fourth title over the Seattle SuperSonics. The 10-time scoring champion led Chicago to its fifth title in 1996-97, proving that his new contract didn’t get in the way of winning.
In the summer of 1997, Jordan signed a one-year, $33.1 million contract with the Bulls. The 14-time All-Star won his fifth regular-season MVP, sixth championship, and sixth Finals MVP in 1997-98, which turned out to be his final season in Chicago.
Air Jordan retired from the NBA for a second time after the Bulls embarked on a rebuild following the sixth title. Phil Jackson didn’t come back as head coach, and Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets. Many people thought Game 6 of the 1998 Finals would be Jordan’s final NBA game, but the basketball icon shocked the world in 2001.
MJ came out of retirement to play for the Wizards
Jordan was working in the Washington Wizards‘ front office when he realized that he could help the team more by going back on the court. He signed a two-year, $2 million deal and made his return to the hardwood on October 30, 2001, against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Despite starting the season at 38 and finishing it at 39, Jordan averaged 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists over 60 games in 2001-02. He scored at least 40 points five times and registered a 51-point game on December 29, 2001, versus the Charlotte Hornets.
Jordan averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in his second and final season with the Wizards. However, Washington missed the playoffs both years the five-time MVP was on the team.
Most basketball fans, if not all, will always remember Jordan for his years on the Bulls, not the Wizards. After all, he won six championships in an eight-year span in Chicago and never lost in the Finals.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.