It was the night of June 20, 1993. The home team: The Phoenix Suns. The visiting team: The Chicago Bulls. The Phoenix Suns were led by league MVP Charles Barkley. The Chicago Bulls were led by Michael Jordan. The Bulls go into the sixth game of the NBA Finals with a 3-2 lead over the Suns..
With 14.1 seconds left in the 4th quarter, the Bulls are down by two, 98-96; the Bulls have possession. Jordan in bounds the ball in front of the Bulls bench; the ball goes back to Jordan to run it up the court. He gets to the three-line and sees Horace Grant. Grant makes a move towards the basket to tie it up, but then sees John Paxson wide open for a three. Grant passes it to Paxson. With 3.9 seconds remaining, Paxson nails the three to go up by one, 99-98. The Suns calls a timeout.
The Suns’ Kevin Johnson in bounds at mid-court. Johnson gets it back and drives up the middle. Johnson goes up for a lay-up, but is blocked by Horace Grant, and the Chicago Bulls win their third straight NBA Finals.
You see a shot of MJ on the ground and hugging the ball in an emotional scene. You go backstage for the celebration, and you see MJ hugging and kissing the NBA Championship trophy and crying while he was doing it. What an emotional celebration it was for ‘The Airman’. During the offseason, tragedy strikes ‘Sir Airness’.
On August 3, 1993, the body of Michael Jordan’s father, James Jordan, was found floating in a South Carolina creek with a single gunshot wound to the chest. James had been missing for three weeks.
On August 5, two days later, James’ red Lexus was discovered being stripped of everything in a wooded area in Fayetteville, NC; his tires and stereo speakers, both the front and back windshields were broken into, and his personalized license plate that read ” UNC0023″ in reference to his son playing at North Carolina University, and his number 23. Police would later arrest two teenage boys, Daniel Green and Larry Demery, in connection to the homicide, in which they were later found guilty and are now serving a lifetime sentence in a North Carolina prison.
On October 6, 1993, Michael Jordan announces his retirement citing the loss of desire to play the game. Jordan later stated that the loss of his father persuaded his decision to step away from the game. This announcement definitely sent out shock and ah throughout the NBA and it made front-page news throughout the world.
On February 7, 1994, Michael made another announcement that made the front pages, and sent shock waves throughout the sports world. Michael Jordan became a baseball player by signing a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. He reported to spring training in Sarasota, Florida, and was assigned to the teams minor league system on March 31, 1994. Jordan stated that his decision to become a baseball player was a dream of his late father, who always wanted Michael to pursue a career as a Major League Baseball player. In 1994, Jordan played with the Birmingham Barons, a minor league team affiliate with the Chicago White Sox. Jordan’s stats include a .202 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBI, 30 SB, and 11 errors. Later that year on November 1, 1994, his 23 number was retired by the Bulls in a ceremony.
During Jordan’s retirement, the Bulls would go onto a 55-27 record during the 93-94 season, and would lose to the New York Knicks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. The 1994-1995 season saw a different kind of Bulls that were far from what you saw two years prior. The Bulls were 31-31 mid-March. But then something happened on March 18, 1995 that needed to be done in order for the Bulls to make the playoffs.
Back then, there was no such thing as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever have you. Back then, the only way you could get on the internet was with a floppy disk through American Online software. AOL reached its peek with 1.5 million subscribers in February 1994, but those users only had limited access. Can you imagine what the millenials would think about how we lived back in those days? They probably wouldn’t survive.
The fastest way possibly to break news throughout the world at the time was via fax, and did Michael Jordan take full advantage of the fax machine.
Michael was handed a couple versions on how to break the news to the world, but he wanted to do it his own way. So, he grabbed a pen and paper, and simply wrote those two famous words: “I’m back.”
Michael’s decision to come out of retirement was because the MLB had gone on strike and he has cited that he feared that he was going to become a replacement player. The next day after his announcement, he was seen wearing a Bulls jersey that dawned the number 45, his number with the Barons.
After his announcement, many people began to think to themselves ‘Does he still have his wings to fly?’
He took to the court the very next day facing the Indiana Pacers, his first game back since that faithful night on June 20, 1993 against the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals. He would go onto score 19 points that evening. The Bulls would go 19-4 in Jordan’s return and make the playoffs that year.
In the end of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic, Magic guard, Nick Anderson, would strip Jordan of the ball and go on to make the game-winning shot to defeat the Bulls. Anderson was quoted after the game as saying “he didn’t look like the old Michael Jordan.” The very next game, Jordan came out wearing his old number 23, and would go on to average 31 points a game for the rest of the series, in which the Bulls lost in six games. The Houston Rockets would go on to win the NBA Finals to repeat from the following year.
Starting the following season, which was the 95-96 season, the Bulls would go on to make a second three-peat during the 90’s.
My favorite childhood memory was of when I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Jordan play in person. It was back in October of 1997, which would later be his last season with the Chicago Bulls. It was a preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with my best friend Caleb Harris and his family. The starting roster was Michael Jordan, Luc Longley, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, and “The Worm” Dennis Rodman. One of the things I remember about that game was that Rodman didn’t dress due to injury or illness. When he came out of the locker room to sit on the bench, he was wearing sweats with a neon leopard skin top hat.
The thing I remember the most about that game was when Michael Jordan had a break away; there was nobody within 30 feet of him. He goes up for a dunk, does a 360…he bricked it.
It doesn’t seem like it’s been 20 years since he came out of retirement, and thank God he did with that now famous fax he sent out. To me, the NBA wasn’t worth watching. Michael leaving was like having a piece of me amputated, like my childhood would never be the same again.
I remember that every single shoe he came out with, I had to have them. I remember going to school wearing my first pair of Jordan’s, the Jordan V that were named “The Fighter” back in 1990. I remember wearing the Jordan VI, the Jordan VII, the Jordan VIII (which my parents did buy me a pair of 3 years ago for my birthday), the Jordan IX, the Jordan X, the Jordan XI (Oh, how I would love to get a hold of another pair of those that my sister in law bought for my brother a couple Christmas’ ago), and so on and so forth.
Thank you, sir Airness. Thanks for the great memories growing up while watching you play on television and in person. It certainly feels great that I share a birthday with a historical moment in sports history.