Today In Sports History: Michael Jordan Retires (again)


Today in Sports History: 

On January 13, 1999 Michael Jordan announced his second retirement from the NBA after playing a combined 12 years for the Chicago Bulls.

Jordan was drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 NBA Draft would become a star for the Bulls during his first stint with them between 1984 and 1993. Jordan had captured 3 NBA Titles, 3 NBA Finals MVP, and 3 NBA MVPs during his first run with the Bulls, which put him on the map as the next great NBA star. Jordan became more than a sports superstar during his initial run with the Bulls, after signing with sponsors like Nike and McDonald’s he would start appearing on TV screens across the country. Along with commercials, Jordan also began the popular Air Jordan basketball shoe that to this day is one of the most recognizable brands across the globe.

However Jordan would face some personal troubles during this time, in particular 1993 Jordan faced very trying times. During the Bulls 1993 playoff run Jordan was spotted at an Atlantic City casino playing poker and other card games, just one night prior to a game versus the New York Knicks. Jordan had been connected to past gambling rumors, but after the Atlantic City spotting it was clear Jordan had a problem. In 2005 he sat down with 60 Minutes and explain the struggles he faced during this period. That year he also lost his father who was murdered in mid-July by two teenagers at a highway rest stop in North Carolina. With so much consuming Jordan he decided to walk away from the NBA on October 6, 1993 citing a lack of desire to play the game.

During Jordan’s time away he infamously tried playing Minor League Baseball with the Birmingham Barons, but during the 1995 MLB Players Strike he decided to walk away from the game that his father was so passionate about. Jordan would make a triumphant return to the Bulls on March 19, 1995 and would don a new number, 45, the same number he wore for the Barons.

During Jordan’s second tenure with the Bulls, he along with Scottie Pippen and coach Phil Jackson would capture 3 more NBA Titles between 1996-1998. Jordan would capture another trio of NBA Finals MVP, as well as 2 NBA MVPs in 1996 and 1998.

After the Bulls won their third consecutive NBA Championship in 1998, there was concern in Chicago about the future of the Bulls. Head coach Phil Jackson’s contract was set to expire, as well as the departure of Dennis Rodman, and Scottie Pippen, and a NBA Lockout that lasted through the beginning part of 1999, Jordan was skeptical about returning to the Bulls.

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With the pressure of losing Jackson, Rodman, Pippen as well as sitting through another lockout, on January 13, 1999 Michael Jordan retired from the NBA once again. Jordan walked away on top, this time adding 3 more NBA Titles, 3 more NBA Finals MVPs and 2 more NBA MVPs.

Jordan would make one final return to the NBA between 2001-2003 where he joined the Washington Wizards, a team in which he had ownership of. Jordan announced his return just weeks after 9/11 and vowed to donate his salary to the victims families. In his first season back Jordan lead the Wizards in scoring, assists, and steals even though he missed the final 22 games of the season with torn cartilage in his knee.

Injuries and age would slow down Jordan who was 40 by the time he played his final game on April 16th against the 76ers. Throughout the 2002-2003 season Jordan had been recognized throughout the league as most knew it would be his last season in the NBA. Ovations, video tributes, and applause was seen across all the NBA cities during the season including standing ovations at the NBA All-Star Game as well as his last trip to Chicago at the United Center. In Jordan’s final game in Philadelphia, the fans of Philly chanted “We Want Mike” one last time and as he walked off the court the fans, players, and officials gave Jordan a 5 minute standing ovation.

Jordan’s Bond with Boston:

While the Celtics struggled throughout the 1990’s when Jordan and the Bull’s really dominated the NBA, it was actually one of Jordan’s earlier games in his career that most Celtic fans will always remember. In the 1986 playoffs a young Michael Jordan faced off against the Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. The two teams met in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and in Game 2 he lit up the Celtics in a memorable matchup.

Jordan scored 63 against the Celtics in an instant classic, the two teams duked it out all night in Boston and saw the Celtics squeak out the win over the Bulls 135-131 in 2OT.  That game against the Celtics would just be the beginning of Jordan’s legendary career, few had any doubt that Jordan would become the next star that took the NBA by storm.