When you talk about some of the most surprising, shocking, and unexpected moments in sports history, Michael Jordan‘s first retirement back in 1993 to play baseball is at the top. At just 30 years old, coming off a three-peat with the Chicago Bulls, MJ was one the most recognizable people in the world. An icon.
So to see him hang it up so abruptly had everybody confused, wondering what the reason behind this decision is. At the time, MJ stated he got tired of basketball, driven by the fact his dad got shot just three months ago. That tragic event helped shape that decision and push him into baseball, the sport his father played. As always, MJ wanted to be the best at everything, and baseball was supposed to be the next challenge.
But that didn’t last too long, as after just 18 months, in which he never managed to achieve something great, Jordan made his comeback to basketball and the Chicago Bulls. In the meantime, the Bulls lost their spot as world champions, but they managed to stay relevant and competitive, led by Scottie Pippen.
Pippen was the only person benefiting from MJ’s absence, as he was averaging MVP-type numbers and proving he can be the team leader. So when MJ came back late in the 1995 season, Pippen had to defer back again to being the sidekick. It wasn’t all pretty as they got bounced out by the Orlando Magic led by Shaq& Penny. But still, after that year, the Bulls recouped and won another three straight championships, cementing their legacy as one of the best teams in NBA history.
Even though Pippen never voiced his frustrations publically at the time, it seems it is all coming out, especially after the release of “The Last Dance” documentary. While talking on the Dan Patrick Show, Pippen touched on many controversial subjects, with MJ’s first retirement being one of them. Scottie shared how he reacted and viewed MJ’s decision to leave basketball at the peak of his power and play baseball:
“I didn’t really think about it, I was really focused on my craft at the time. Yeah It was a big decision, but It was a selfish decision, but it was kind of who Michael Jordan was. That was a guy who believed he can do anything on his own.”Scottie Pippen, The Dan Patrick Show
Even though nobody except MJ himself knows the real reason he retired in 1993, Pippen obviously has some issues with the decision, as he called it selfish. After all, MJ, who at the time was the greatest basketball player in the world, abandoned his team and fans all over the world, leaving a bitter taste in Pippen’s mouth. Still, on the other side, you can’t judge a man making a decision for himself, especially after such a traumatic event. Whichever side you are on, you have to acknowledge he did return and win the Bulls three more championships, alongside Pippen, no matter how good or bad their off-court relationship was.
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