All the talk about ‘The Last Dance’ and the 97-98 Chicago Bulls season was focused on how it would be the final bow for Michael Jordan.
Through 14 years in Chicago – 18 months of which were spent playing baseball – Jordan set the standards for sporting success. Not only was he revolutionizing the game on the court, he was popularizing it in unchartered territories. To top it all off, he was the greatest sneaker salesman ever.
So good was he, even during his mid-30s, that he won his last MVP trophy in 1997-98. That was why it came as a blow to the basketball community that he hung up his shoes again. People felt that he’d cut his peak short once more.
Michael Jordan himself wanted to keep his Bulls team together longer. He tried negotiating with Jerry Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf long and hard, but to no avail.
Michael Jordan did not see eye-to-eye with Bulls front office
It is now well-known that the relationship between Jerry Krause and Michael Jordan was none too warm. But they made it work for several years based on sheer good luck – the Scottie Pippen deal. Pippen’s low salary allowed the Bulls to surround Jordan with the likes of Toni Kukoc and Dennis Rodman.
But Krause had decided that it was time to phase out the Phil Jackson era, and wanted to start it with him. MJ had maintained all season long that he wouldn’t consider playing for any coach save the Zen Master. But it was to no avail, as despite repeated criticism from their franchise player, the Bulls front office didn’t budge.
OTD (99) Michael Jordan retired for a second time and said he was 99.9 percent sure he would not return.
The announcement was 7 months after winning his last championship & days after the NBA agreed to end the lockout.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 13, 2021
Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing urged him not to retire, but to no avail. In his retirement status, Jordan said:
”I’ve talked to Patrick, I’ve talked to Charles, I’ve talked to Karl, I’ve talked to all of them. ‘I’m pretty sure they feel the same. They all wanted me to come back, just so if they win a championship they can say they’ve gone through Chicago and Michael Jordan to win it. That’s the good thing about it.”
“And they won’t ever have the chance to say that. That’s why I was so glad that Magic played and Bird played when I won my titles. Because I had to go through, to some degree, Boston and L.A.”
Even in parting, Jordan couldn’t hesitate to show his competitive edge.