Michael Jordan shocked the NBA fraternity on January 13th 1999, when he announced his second retirement from the sport.
Jordan, who had earlier retired after securing a three peat with the Bulls, returned to NBA post a year and a half break, only to lead the Bulls to another three peat, and build one of the greatest legacies that the sport had ever seen.
The team was flourishing on all accounts and Jordan seemed invincible. However, what fans witnessed on the outside was nowhere close to what Jordan was going through on the inside.
A 6th NBA title had taken a massive toll on MJ, who was now struggling for motivation and was mentally exhausted. He has thus taken the tough decision of leaving NBA for the second time.
20 years ago today, Michael Jordan retired for the 2nd time. This set off a 10-day chain of events unprecedented in pro sports, transforming a 62-win, three-time defending champ into a 13-37 nightmare and changing the Bulls franchise in ways that still reverberate.
A Thread. pic.twitter.com/V0YNMW9SSw
— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) January 13, 2019
On This Date: In 1999, Michael Jordan retired for the second time. Two years later, he made a comeback with the Wizards. pic.twitter.com/BqWJSZPxjo
— ESPN (@espn) January 13, 2019
In a recent interview, one that was released days before the 20th anniversary of Jordan’s second retirement, Pippen confirmed that Chicago Bulls’ front office had a major role to play in Jordan’s departure too.
According to Pippen, the Bulls team could have gone on for at least another(with Pippen and Jordan staying on), but the Bulls management had other plans.
Thus, Jordan retired and Pippen left and the greatest ever NBA dynasty had come to an end.
Jordan though could not stay away from the game and became the Director of Basketball operations with the Washington Wizards.
Having left a 0.01% chance of coming back to the NBA, in 2001 Jordan announced that he will be donning the Wizards jersey and will be returning as a player.
When asked as to what his motivation was this time round, after having specifically singled out ‘lack of motivation’ and ‘mental exhaustion’ as a cause for his second retirement, Jordan confirmed that he was coming back because of the love for the game.
“I am returning as a player to the game I love,” Jordan said.
When asked why he was returning to play for the Wizards, Jordan nonchalantly replied that he felt the Wizards had the ground work ready to become a championship worthy team.
He also added that he was looking forward to giving something back to the game, and helping out the younger generation would be the best way to go about it.
“I am especially excited about the Washington Wizards, and I’m convinced we have the foundation on which to build a playoff-contention team,” Jordan said.
— Chicago Sports (@ChicagoSports) September 25, 2016
— Justin Diamond (@justinddiamond) October 30, 2017
“The opportunity to teach our young players and help them elevate their game to a higher level, and to thank the fans in Washington for their loyalty and support, strongly influenced my decision.” he added.
He wasn’t really coming back to win, he just wanted to play some basketball and help out the younger kids make a career for themselves.
“I know there are a lot of naysayers out there,” Jordan said.
“Winning isn’t always championships. What’s wrong with helping kids find their way, teaching them the game?” he added.
Talking about his Chicago Bulls connect, Jordan said that he was focussed on the future and how he could influence that instead of hanging onto the past.
“While nothing can take away from the past, I am firmly focused on the future and the competitive challenge ahead of me,” Jordan concluded.
Jordan would have expected to have a good comeback with the Wizards, but it wasn’t quite meant to be for him, as the team did not make it to the playoffs in both his seasons there.
Do you think Jordan made a mistake coming back to the NBA and especially coming back on as a Wizards player?