Phil Jackson Tried to Convince Michael Jordan Not to Retire in 1993 During Deep Conversation: ‘You’re Depriving So Many People Who Enjoy This Sport’
In a shocking move to the sports world, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan retired from the NBA before the 1993-94 season. The All-Star shooting guard tragically lost his father to a grueling murder and was no longer motivated to play basketball after winning three consecutive championships.
Bulls majority governor Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t try to talk Jordan out of retiring. However, he told his star player he couldn’t make a final decision before speaking with Phil Jackson, who briefly tried to convince MJ not to retire by explaining how important he was to the sport.
Phil Jackson to Michael Jordan: “You’re depriving so many people who enjoy this sport”
Jackson understood why Jordan wanted to retire. However, he also wanted the UNC product to know how vital he was to basketball.
“You have to understand that it’s your decision, but you’re depriving so many people who enjoy this sport the opportunity of such great amount of pleasure,” Jackson told Jordan. “This is something you may have to think about for a while.”
Despite having a meaningful conversation with Jackson, Jordan still retired in 1993. The NBA’s all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating had nothing left to prove, and he went into detail why he walked away at the peak of his powers in Episode 7 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries.
Michael Jordan: “I have no more challenges”
Jordan was a seven-time scoring champion, three-time regular-season MVP, three-time champion, and three-time Finals MVP by 1993. He fulfilled his responsibility to the Bulls and no longer had the hunger to compete at the highest level.
“At that time, we were coming off of three championships. I fulfilled my responsibility to the city, to the Bulls, to my teammates,” Jordan said in The Last Dance. “When I told Phil, I said, ‘Look, I’m about done. I have no more challenges. I have no more motivation.’ I was done. I was at peace with that decision. Totally. 100%. You know, I felt ready.”
From 1984-85 to 1992-93, Jordan played in 667 regular-season games and 111 playoff games. He averaged 32.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in the regular season and 34.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.6 assists in the postseason. His Airness also won the 1987-88 Defensive Player of the Year Award and three steals titles.
Four months and one day after his retirement, Jordan signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. He batted .202 for the Birmingham Barons in 1994 and played reasonably well for someone who hadn’t played baseball since high school. However, Jordan never got called up to the White Sox.
There was a baseball strike in 1995, and Jordan refused to play alongside replacement players. With nothing to do, Black Jesus started playing pick-up games at the Berto Center with the Bulls, and his love for basketball returned.
MJ returned to Bulls in 1995
Jordan came out of retirement in March 1995 and played the final 17 games of the 1994-95 season. He averaged 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists and helped the Bulls go 13-4.
However, Jordan and Co. lost to the Orlando Magic in the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, the only playoff series Superman lost from 1991 to 1998. The Hall of Famer used that defeat as motivation to come back stronger in 1995-96, and boy did he ever.
The Bulls won 72 games in 1995-96. Jordan won his fourth regular-season MVP, and Jackson won his first and lone Coach of the Year Award. Chicago capped off its magical season by defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 Finals.
Jordan and the Bulls won two more championships in 1997 and 1998 to finish the dynasty. Captain Marvel finished his career with five regular-season MVPs, six championships, six Finals MVPs, and 10 scoring titles. He’s arguably the greatest player in NBA history and will always be revered in NBA circles.