Michael Jordan retired from the NBA for the second time in 1999 after guiding the Chicago Bulls to their sixth championship eight years during the 1997-98 season. The 1998-99 campaign started in February due to a lockout, and Jordan walked away from the game since Phil Jackson was no longer the Bulls’ coach.
When news broke that Jordan was retiring, players around the NBA were naturally upset since they loved watching and competing against MJ. However, New Jersey Nets big man Jayson Williams had a rather funny reaction.
Jayson Williams on Michael Jordan retiring: “I thought Jesus worked seven days a week”
Black Jesus was one of Jordan’s most famous nicknames since he was basically a god on the basketball court. So when Williams heard the Bulls legend was retiring, he questioned whether Jordan was allowed to stop playing.
“I thought Jesus never will retire,” Williams said. “I thought Jesus worked seven days a week. Or six days. He rest on Sunday, didn’t he? But Michael Jordan played on Sunday.”
Players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Anfernee Hardaway called Jordan the greatest player in NBA history while discussing his 1999 retirement, and they had every right to.
Michael Jordan’s Bulls run was legendary
Jordan had two stints with the Bulls. He played in Chicago from 1984-85 to 1992-93 and then returned near the end of the 1994-95 season after playing baseball. The UNC product appeared in 930 regular-season games with the Bulls and averaged 31.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.5 steals while shooting 50.5% from the field, 33.2% from beyond the arc, and 83.8% from the free-throw line.
Along with winning six championships, Jordan won six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, three All-Star Game MVPs, 10 scoring titles, three steals titles, and one Defensive Player of the Year Award with the Bulls. He also made 11 All-NBA teams and nine All-Defensive teams.
The Bulls went undefeated in the Finals during the ’90s. Jordan averaged 33.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 35 Finals games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Seattle SuperSonics, and Utah Jazz. Superman, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, is the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating in the regular season and postseason.
Thanks to Jordan, several stars in the ’90s never reached the promised land, with Williams being one of them. However, Jordan tried to help Williams win a championship.
MJ went to bar to recruit Jayson Williams to Bulls
Williams was an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 1995, and Jordan wanted him on the Bulls. The All-Star guard met with the forward in a Greenwich Village nightclub to recruit him to Chicago.
“He told me all he needs is for me to rebound, and he’ll get me two or three rings,” Williams told Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune in 1995. “He was all over me. He said I was at the top of list. He said, ‘I had to come all the way to your neighborhood to find you.'”
Williams chose to re-sign with the Nets despite meeting with Jordan, which turned out to be the wrong move. The Bulls won three championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, while the Nets never made it out of the first round of the postseason.
Williams made his first and only All-Star appearance in 1997-98. However, his Nets lost to Jordan and the Bulls in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. Williams may sign with Chicago instead of going back to New Jersey if he could do it all over again.