Michael Jordan : biography
First retirement and baseball career
On October 6, 1993, Jordan announced his retirement, citing a loss of desire to play the game. Jordan later stated that the murder of his father earlier in the year shaped his decision.Berkow, Ira. , The New York Times, April 11, 1994. Retrieved January 16, 2007. James R. Jordan, Sr. was murdered on July 23, 1993, at a highway rest area in Lumberton, North Carolina, by two teenagers, Daniel Green and Larry Martin Demery. The assailants were traced from calls they made on James Jordan’s cellular phone,Mitchell, Alison. , The New York Times, August 22, 1993. Retrieved March 24, 2008. caught, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. Jordan was close to his father; as a child he had imitated his father’s proclivity to stick out his tongue while absorbed in work. He later adopted it as his own signature, displaying it each time he drove to the basket. In 1996, he founded a Chicago area Boys & Girls Club and dedicated it to his father.Walsh, Edward. , The Washington Post, January 14, 1998. Retrieved January 16, 2007., Jet Magazine, August 14, 1995, available at findarticles.com. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
In his 1998 autobiography For the Love of the Game, Jordan wrote that he had been preparing for retirement as early as the summer of 1992.Jordan, Michael. For the Love of the Game: My Story. New York City: Crown Publishers, 1998. pg. 100. ISBN 0-609-60206-3. The added exhaustion due to the Dream Team run in the 1992 Olympics solidified Jordan’s feelings about the game and his ever-growing celebrity status. Jordan’s announcement sent shock waves throughout the NBA and appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world.Thompson, Ian and Ted Rodgers. , The Sporting News, October 18, 1993, available at findarticles.com. Retrieved April 25, 2008.
Jordan then further surprised the sports world by signing a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. He reported to spring training and was assigned to the team’s minor league system on March 31, 1994., Sports Illustrated, January 12, 1999. Retrieved March 15, 2007. Jordan has stated this decision was made to pursue the dream of his late father, who had always envisioned his son as a Major League Baseball player., Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 7, 2007. The White Sox were another team owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who continued to honor Jordan’s basketball contract during the years he played baseball.Araton, Harvey. , The New York Times, March 10, 1995. Retrieved March 24, 2008. In 1994, Jordan played for the Birmingham Barons, a Double-A minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, batting .202 with three home runs, 51 runs batted in, 30 stolen bases, and 11 errors. He also appeared for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 1994 Arizona Fall League, batting .252 against the top prospects in baseball., Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 2, 2011. On November 1, 1994, his number 23 was retired by the Bulls in a ceremony that included the erection of a permanent sculpture known as The Spirit outside the new United Center.
"I’m back": Return to the NBA
In the 1993–94 season, the Bulls, without Jordan, achieved a 55–27 record, and lost to the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs. But the 1994–95 version of the Bulls was a shell of the championship squad of just two years earlier. Struggling at mid-season to ensure a spot in the playoffs, Chicago was 31–31 at one point in mid-March.Taylor, Phil. , Sports Illustrated, March 20, 1995. Retrieved March 25, 2009. The team received a lift, however, when Jordan decided to return to the NBA for the Bulls.
On March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a two-word press release: "I’m back." The next day, Jordan donned jersey number 45 (his number with the Barons), as his familiar 23 had been retired in his honor following his first retirement. He took to the court with the Bulls to face the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, scoring 19 points., Jet Magazine, April 3, 1995, available at findarticles.com. Retrieved May 2, 2008. The game had the highest Nielsen rating of a regular season NBA game since 1975.Hausman, Jerry A. and Gregory K. Leonard. "Superstars in the National Basketball Association: Economic Value and Policy." Journal of Labor Economics, 15 (4): 586–624 , 1997. .