‘The Last Dance’: Michael Jordan Quit Playing Basketball in 1993 After a Terrible Tragedy

We all know and recognize Michael Jordan as one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. He won six NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls and built the Jordan Empire. The Last Dance which highlights the 1997-1998 season of The Chicago Bulls also reveals the real reason Jordan left the NBA behind for 18 months in 1993.

At the end of his 1992-1993 season, at age 31, Jordan said goodbye to the Chicago Bulls and the NBA in general. He stunned the public and the sports world by saying he had enough.

He would eventually return to the NBA, gathering three more championships. However, at the time, his retirement from basketball seemed to be a permanent move.

Michael Jordan was exhausted from playing basketball

By 1993, Jordan had become a mega-star across the globe and it was wearing on him. His drive and hunger for the game caused him to push his teammates to their limits. However, off the court, his “nice-guy” persona was being attacked.

In 1992, author Sam Smith published his controversial book, The Jordan Rules. The book established Jordan as a tyrant behind the scenes, a man who drove his teammates to the point of exhaustion. His love for gambling was also highlighted, and it was made to look like the NBA star had a real problem when it came to making bets.

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Michael Jordan quit playing basketball in 1993

After winning three straight championships with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, Jordan held a massive press conference in the late summer of 1993. It had been a challenging year for the NBA star. Following some negative press about his gambling, he had already grown weary of the spotlight.

Then, in July 1993, his father, James R. Jordan, Sr, was tragically murdered in a botched robbery. As a result, the NBA star decided that he had enough. News of his retirement hit the world like a frenzy. There were even rumors that NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Jordan for 18 months, but that has been categorically denied.

In reality, Jordan was exhausted and heartbroken amid the death of his father. He left the NBA to play baseball for a year in a half with the minor leagues. It provided him with the opportunity to heal from such a devastating loss and become a different type of teammate, one that didn’t necessarily need to be the leader at all time

Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995

Jordan played with the minor leagues for 18 months, building his NBA body into one made for baseball. Though he stumbled at first, he eventually became quite good at the game. However, that year, professional baseball went on strike, and Jordan found himself hanging out at the Bulls practices.

He would eventually return to the basketball court at the end of the 1994-1995 season wearing the number “45” before eventually unretiring is former “23” number. It took some time for Jordan to dust off the rust and restructure is build into one of a basketball player. However, by the 1995-1996 season, he was a champion once again.