Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan shocked the sports world in 1993 by retiring from the NBA. The superstar shooting guard, who led the Bulls to their third straight championship, walked away from basketball after tragically losing his father.
Jordan’s gambling issues led many people to the conclusion that David Stern suspended MJ for a year. However, legendary Bulls reporter Sam Smith thinks people who believe there was a secret suspension are foolish.
Sam Smith: Michael Jordan wasn’t suspended
There were rumors that Jordan was gambling on NBA games, and Stern found out and suspended him for a year. However, if that were true, would the commissioner have allowed Black Jesus to return in 1995? Seems unlikely.
During a 2010 ESPN documentary about Jordan’s baseball stint, Smith — who covered the Bulls’ dynasty — said there is zero chance Superman was secretly suspended.
“It’s not possible to keep a secret in the NBA,” Smith said, via Chicago Sports historian Jack M Silverstein. “So this notion that somehow the NBA suspended the greatest player in the history of the NBA — forced him out of the game — and now, almost 20 years later, nobody still knows about this, is just ludicrous.”
Was Jordan gambling a lot of money on his card and golf games? Absolutely. However, he wasn’t breaking any laws, which is why he and Stern laughed about the secret suspension conspiracy theory in Episode 7 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries.
David Stern: I didn’t suspend Michael Jordan
Stern denied that he suspended Jordan due to gambling. In addition, the Bulls icon revealed why he retired in 1993, saying it had nothing to do with his betting.
“The folklore, the urban legend that I sent him away because he was gambling, ridiculous,” Stern said. “No basis in fact whatever. I could bang on the table and say it’s a calumny, a slanderous lie, or whatever. It’s just not true. Never was and never will be, no matter how many times people ask the question.”
Jordan was mentally and physically exhausted after winning three straight championships. He was also heartbroken after losing his dad and had zero energy or motivation to play basketball anymore.
“I didn’t retire because he kicked me out, or they suspended me for a year and a half,” Jordan said. “That is not true. There is no truth to that. I needed a break, you know, my father just passed, and I retired. I retired with the notion that I wasn’t going to come back.”
Jordan wasn’t secretly suspended. However, he wasn’t done with the NBA either.
MJ came back in 1995
Jordan came out of retirement in 1995 and rejoined the Bulls near the end of the 1994-95 season. After getting humbled by the Orlando Magic in the 1995 playoffs, the 10-time scoring champion tirelessly worked on his game and body in the summer of 1995 and came back with a vengeance in 1995-96.
The Bulls won three consecutive rings in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Jordan won two MVPs, three scoring titles, and three Finals MVPs during that stretch. He also led Chicago to 72 wins in 1995-96.
Jordan didn’t stop gambling on his card or golf games when he came back. The competitor in him wouldn’t allow it. Luckily for the five-time MVP, the media stopped asking questions about his gambling and reverted back to basketball-related questions since they presumably missed him in 1993-94.
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