Jordan’s first retirement caught everyone by surprise. Some may have expected such a scenario to happen, but once the decision became public, people were having a hard time dealing with it. It was unprecedented for an athlete to retreat at his peak, and it was hard to rationalize his move at the time.
David Falk, a member of Jordan’s inner circle and his long time agent, was one of the first to hear the news from MJ. The two have shared a special bond, so Falk’s opinion was of importance for Michael. Falk was supportive of his decision and understood that Jordan was weary and needed to take a break.
“One thing you have to know about Jordan, he is an amazingly great friend. He’s loyal; he’s sensitive, considerate, he makes you feel special. But he loves to tweak you. So he called me at home and said, ‘Hey, I just want you to know I’m going to retire.’ I just shut up for like 30 seconds. I said, ‘What are you thinking of doing?’ He said, ‘I want to play baseball.’ I wasn’t surprised because he had talked about it with his dad, so I wasn’t surprised that that’s something he would want to do if he ever retired. I said to him, ‘It’s the American dream to work real hard at something and become the best at it, make a ton of money, and when you make a ton of money, you can do whatever you want. If what satisfies you at this point is baseball, go for it.’ I think it takes an incredible amount of courage for a player who is the best in the world, to give it up in his prime and to go play something he hasn’t played since Junior high.“David Falk, via Colin Cowherd
Knowing Jordan’s background and his relationship with his dad, the decision to retire, and going to play baseball made sense for Falk. He could at least rationalize it and understand it. But it seems that he also admired it and considered it courageous.
And when you think about it, it was. It takes some boldness for someone who is the best player in the world in his sport to give it up in his prime and play a game he hasn’t played for 15 years. This is especially so for a man in his position, as he was always the focus of the public eye. To expose himself to the risk of not reaching near the same level of excellence he had reached while playing basketball. It was challenging, to say the least.
Can you honestly imagine a top MLB baseball player today who is at the peak of his powers to one day say ‘I’ve had enough, I want to play basketball’ and join a G-league team? I can’t. The transition from playing one sport on a professional level to another at that age sounds near impossible. It even seems unreal to an extent.
So whether you see Jordan’s baseball adventure as a successful one or not, it was undeniably admirable. Something we probably won’t see ever again.