Michael Jordan was never slated to come back to the NBA after 1993. But a whirlwind 45-day spell caused him to change his mind and return.
The Bulls legend took up baseball full time in October 1993 after announcing his retirement from basketball. Jordan cited burnout, a desire to try something new and his father’s wishes to pursue baseball. He originally signed a deal with the Chicago White Sox, also a property of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
The Chicago Bulls did well in his first season out. They tallied 55 wins and made it to Game 7 of the Conference Semis, losing to Patrick Ewing’s Knicks. The following year, however, they were barely above the .500 mark by the All Star break. Scottie Pippen was nearly traded to Seattle for Shawn Kemp.
The extenuating circumstances of the Bulls led to Michael Jordan staging a return to basketball. He announced his decision with an iconic 2-word statement: ‘I’m Back.’
What led Michael Jordan to return to the NBA
Jordan was on the verge of signing a minor league deal with the Sounds. GM Larry Schmitter said the following about Jordan’s stint in baseball:
“I will say this: the eight days that I saw him, he worked very, very hard. He’d come in very, very early, earlier than most visiting teams would come in, and maybe spend an hour down there with the hitting coach working in the batting cage.”
However, there was a lockout staged between minor league players and the MLB, which started in August 1994. By March 1995, things had deteriorated so badly between MJ and the Sounds management that Jordan walked out of spring training camp.
Michael Jordan remained a free agent from March 3 to March 17, 1995. He announced his return to basketball that fated night, suiting up in a number 45 jersey in a game against the Indiana Pacers. Jordan began his comeback arc with the double-nickel performance at Madison Square Garden. He ended it with the second 3-peat of his career in 1998.