Michael Jordan made his grand return to the NBA near the end of the 1994-95 season after playing baseball in 1994. The Chicago Bulls legend played in 17 games to close out the campaign, with his first contest coming against the Indiana Pacers on March 19.
As several pundits expected, Jordan was rusty against the Pacers. However, no one anticipated the superstar shooting guard to put his shorts on backward. When the camera showed Jordan’s shorts, the media speculated that His Airness was so nervous playing in his first basketball game in over a year and a half that he didn’t pay attention when he put his shorts on.
However, Bulls equipment manager John Ligmanowski put an end to the rumors a few days after Jordan’s comeback game.
Michael Jordan didn’t wear his shorts backward
The public said Jordan wore his shorts backward against the Pacers because the NBA logo was on the back of his shorts instead of the front. However, Ligmanowski said it was Champion’s fault, not MJ’s. Champion was the manufacturer of clothing for the NBA.
“Champion sewed the logo on the back of the short instead of the front of the short,” Ligmanowski said. “So he had his shorts on right, just that the logo was sewed on the back of his short instead of the front of the short. That’s a quality control problem at Champion, not Michael not knowing how to put his shorts on.”
Jordan may have worn his shorts the right way. However, he couldn’t hit a shot to save his life against the Pacers.
Michael Jordan shot 25.0% from the field versus Indiana
Jordan was awful against the Pacers in his comeback game. He shot 7-of-28 from the field and scored 19 points in 43 minutes. The Bulls lost to Indiana by a final score of 103-96 despite getting 31 points from Scottie Pippen.
Instead of No. 23, Jordan wore No. 45 when he came back to the NBA. 45 was his first number in high school, and he felt weird wearing 23 since his father wasn’t around. James Jordan was tragically murdered in the summer of 1993 after the Bulls won their straight title.
Jordan wound up averaging 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the 17 games he played in 1994-95. While he shot a career-low 41.1% from the field, the six-time Finals MVP did score 55 points on March 28 against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The Bulls finished the season at 47-35. Jordan and Pippen led them to a first-round playoff series win over the Charlotte Hornets. However, the duo came up short in the second round.
Bulls lost to Magic
Jordan and Pippen only lost one playoff series together from 1991 to 1998. It came against the Orlando Magic in the second round of the ’95 playoffs. The Bulls lost the series in six games, with Orlando eliminating Jordan and Pippen at the United Center.
The Magic reached the ’95 NBA Finals, where they got swept by the Houston Rockets. Devastated after losing to Orlando, Jordan went back to work in the summer and used his loss to the Magic as motivation to get back on top of the basketball world.
No one likes to lose, but setbacks can be useful because they can trigger players to take their minds and bodies to another level. That’s precisely what Jordan did after losing to the Magic. He transformed his body from a baseball frame to a basketball one and dominated the NBA during his final three years in Chicago.
A 10-time scoring champion, Jordan won two regular-season MVPs, three championships, and three Finals MVPs after coming up short against the Magic in ’95. And more importantly, his shorts never got mistaken for being backward again.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.