Numerous interesting NBA stories see the light of the day years after they happen. NBA in itself is like a big fraternity with players often keeping secrets until they think it’s worthwhile to share them with the public. One of those stories is when Michael Jordan came to practice with the Golden State Warriors back in 1994 when he was still retired from the NBA but was already testing the grounds to make another comeback.
NBA legend Tim Hardaway, a member of the Warriors at that time, made a guest appearance on the Basketball Time Machine podcast, where he shared more details about facing Jordan at their practice facility. According to Hardaway, Jordan was thinking about making a comeback, but because he wasn’t sure where he was in terms of playing basketball at a high level. He was very much into baseball, and he often said he had a baseball body at that time which doesn’t translate well on the basketball court.
Hardaway remembers Jordan’s basketball instincts and IQ were still there, but he wanted to see if he can compete with NBA players in other aspects of the game.
A lot of things are secret in the NBA a lot of people don’t know about. You keep the doors closed, and you keep your mouth closed because anything can happen behind closed doors. He was so happy to start practicing with us. He came in and wanted to see where his abilities were at that particular set of time and if he was still able to keep up with people or just play professional basketball again. His basketball IQ was still there, but his timing, quickness, his awareness, his basketball twitchiness, and able to stay in front of people and see if he was still there and if his drive was still there.Tim, Hardaway, via Basketball Time Machine
During those years, the Warriors had a young and talented team, with one of those young players being Latrell Sprewell. Spree and Hardaway were on one squad, and Jordan picked his team. Hardaway says Jordan kicked their butts, which was a big surprise, considering he wasn’t actively playing basketball. Jordan felt rejuvenated, and his competitive spirit wanted to showcase to everyone he is still the best player out there no matter what the circumstances are.
He just wanted to see, and he played against Latrell, myself, and he picked his team, and we had our team. Honestly, I’m gonna tell you, he kicked our ass, literally kicked our ass. I think at that particular time; he knew that he was coming back. When he came in, he played for about an hour and a half and said he could play all day. But he literally kicked our butts and took it to us and showed us he was still a guy that can play on a high level, that he is still Michael Jordan.Tim, Hardaway, via Basketball Time Machine
Maybe those pick-up games were the leading cause behind Jordan’s decision to finally give NBA and basketball another chance. Seeing he could compete and dominate a player like Latrell Sprewell, who, despite being young, was already a great two-way player and the future all-star in the league, was a message for him that he is ready to return. But, unfortunately, for the rest of the NBA, that is what he did and continue where he left off, winning three championships in a row, once again asserting himself as the best player in the world.