After winning three consecutive NBA titles, Michael Jordan retired from the NBA in October 1993. The untimely death of his father was weighing on him, he was burnt out, and he would later attempt a career at baseball.
Most folks in and around the NBA believed that Michael Jordan would return at some point, which he did in March 1995. However, before he would suit up again in a Chicago Bulls uniform, he needed to get in a little work and dropped by practice for the Golden State Warriors. What happened is simply classic MJ.
Michael Jordan leaves baseball
On August 12, 1994, the longest strike in Major League Baseball history began. It shut down the final six weeks of the regular season and also led to the cancellation of the World Series. It’s also what led to Michael Jordan returning to the NBA.
In 1995, believing that the strike would soon end, Jordan showed up to White Sox training camp a week early, ready to put in the work. However, as the strike dragged on, he had no intention of ever crossing a picket line and refused to be a replacement player if a settlement couldn’t be reached. On March 2, 1995, Jordan packed up his things and left camp. Just eight days later, he announced his decision to leave the game for good, ending his 13-month baseball career.
Jordan destroys the Golden State Warriors
Michael Jordan is a competitive person. Countless stories have been told throughout the years about the type of person MJ is and one of the best in recent memory comes from Chris Mullin. Mullin, who was a teammate of Michael Jordan on the 1992 Dream Team that won Olympic gold, recently shared an anecdote for the NBC Sports documentary, “I’m Back”, which aired recently to commemorate the 25th anniversary of MJ’s return to the NBA.
When Michael Jordan first entered the league in 1984, one of his teammates was Rod Higgins, with whom he developed a friendship. Higgins was playing with the Golden State Warriors in 1995 and Jordan reached out to him to see if he could come to a practice. Higgins approached head coach Don Nelson about it, thinking he’d say no, but the response was an enthusiastic “Hell yeah.” As Chris Mullin tells it, things didn’t go well for the Warriors that day.
“I was injured at the time so I do remember Michael coming down to practice and we’re basically the same size, the same sneaker size,” Mullin said. “I think we had Tim Hardaway and Latrell Sprewell at that point in time. They might have been popping off a little bit. Michael said, ‘Mully, let’s go, get me your gear.’
“He went to my locker, put my gear on, and went out there and basically single-handedly beat the Warriors down by himself. That’s when I was like, this guy is coming back.”Chris Mullin on Michael Jordan
If only camera and video phones had been around back then. Classic Michael.
As Chris Mullin had predicted, Michael Jordan did indeed return to the NBA, sending the “I’m back” fax on March 18, 1995, and returning a day later against the Indiana Pacers. Jordan scored 19 points in his return on 7-for-28 shooting.
The rust would wear off and Jordan would go on to win three more NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls before retiring again in 1998. He once again returned in 2001 and played two seasons with the Washington Wizards.