Michael Jordan established himself as a dominant force in the NBA, winning six titles in six finals appearances. He initially struggled to get past the 'Bad Boy' Detroit Pistons in the East, but once he overcame that hurdle, the Chicago Bulls sprang into success. They went on to complete a three-peat run between 1990 and 1993.
However, Jordan had some personal struggles during his career that led to him playing fewer seasons. In the summer after his third NBA ring in 1993, Jordan’s father was tragically assassinated.
The incident affected MJ drastically, and he decided to retire and pursue professional baseball – a dream his father dreamt for him.
Jordan missed the entire 1993-94 season but could not stay away from the sport much longer. He returned to the NBA towards the end of the 1994-95 season but crashed out of the playoffs against the Shaquille O’Neal led Orlando Magic in six games. Jordan was individually effective in that series, averaging 31 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, but the team needed some adjustments.
The Chicago Bulls started the 1995-96 season with a re-vamped roster, leaping back into relevance. Michael Jordan and the Bulls wrote history again by completing a three-peat between 1995 and 1998.
However, with the conclusion of the 1998 NBA Finals, retirement knocked at Jordan’s door for the second time.
Michael Jordan’s second retirement and his Washington Wizards stint
The Bulls were the most dominant franchise in the 1990s but a wave of change was coming along. Many players were sitting on expiring contracts and GM Jerry Krause stated at the start of the 1997-98 season that it would be Phil Jackson’s last one. The entire roster was aware that it was probably the last time the Bulls core would feature together.
On January 13, 1999, when the NBA was reaching its resumption after the 1998 lockout, Jordan announced his second retirement. This time he was certain that he wouldn’t return.
However, with basketball probably deep in his veins, Jordan could not resist the temptation. He first returned to the NBA as the president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards in January 2000. Within a matter of time, he started training rigorously – eyeing a return at 38 years of age.
Michael Jordan signed a player contract with the Washington Wizards prior to the start of the 2001-02 season. He played two seasons for the Wizards, averaging 21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists, but there was a visible difference.
Michael Jordan still had some big nights. He dropped 51 points on the Charlotte Hornets during the 2001-02 season and 45 points on the New Orleans Hornets during the 2002-03 season. But the roster was far from the Bulls’ glory days and Jordan was aging.
Jordan did not play playoff basketball during his two-year stint with the Wizards but was an All-Star in both the years. He subsequently retired at the end of the 2002-03 season, putting to bed a very respectable career in the NBA.