When Did Michael Jordan Retire?
Most athletes who are fortunate enough to make it to the NBA know their careers may be short. Basketball is a tough sport, both mentally and physically, the pressure to stay on the top of the game is so intense that the typical NBA player will probably only do it for about four seasons.
So to last as long as Michael Jordan did is almost unheard of. And to come out of retirement multiple times is as well.
Jordan played a total of fifteen seasons in the NBA after starting off his career as a center for the University of North Carolina in Chapel Heel.
As a Tarheel, Jordan had unprecedented success. He was named the ACC Freshman of the Year after his widely celebrated jump shot won the game for the Tarheels against Georgetown in the NCAA Championship that year.
After leaving college, Jordan was drafted to the Chicago Bulls, where he played for the first nine seasons of his career. During those years, Michael Jordan rose to never before seen heights in the game of basketball, and his career highlights were unrivaled and included things like scoring the most points ever in a playoff game (63), bringing home three NBA Championships and two Olympic gold medals.
He would go on to accomplish and achieve even more after he retired, then returned to the game later, earning him the title of “greatest basketball player of all time.”
But let’s take a closer look at his retirements and what brought him back after each one.
1. Michael Jordan Retired From Basketball at the Age of 30 for the First Time
After a wildly successful nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan announced his retirement in 1993, saying that he had lost a desire to continue to play the sport.
It was a decision that shocked the world of basketball and was not at all expected.
One reason for Jordan’s sudden departure was attributed to the death of his father three months earlier.
Jordan’s father was murdered while at a highway rest area by two teenagers that were later convicted of the crime.
Having been very close to his father, Jordan left the sport of basketball to pursue a career in baseball, a dream his father had always had for him.
In 1994, Jordan signed with the Chicago White Sox, a minor league team that was also owned by the man who owned the Chicago Bulls (and chose not to cancel Johnson’s basketball contract.)
The following year, Michael Jordan returned to basketball and his old team, the Chicago Bulls.
He infamously announced his return to the court with a two-word press release: “I’m back,” was all it said.
2. Michael Jordan Retired From Basketball at the Age of 36 for the Second Time
Michael Jordan’s second retirement happened after the 1999 basketball season came to a close.
Though the reasons for his retirement were less clear than the first time, there was speculation that he was again losing interest in the sport and tiring of all the fame surrounding him.
He also was likely frustrated by the impending lockout and the departure of some of his fellow players, like Scottie Pippen.
During his retirement, Jordan became co-owner of the Washington Wizards, the team that he would eventually come out of retirement to play for, where his famed, fifteen-season career would eventually end.
3. Michael Jordan Retired From Basketball at the Age of 40 for the Last Time in His Basketball Career
Finally, after playing for the Washington Wizards for only two seasons, Michael Jordan made the decision to retire from the basketball court after the 2002-2003 season came to a close.
Since he made the announcement early in the season, fans and fellow team members had a chance to prepare.
During his final season on the court, every one of the Washington Wizards games was sold out, bringing in crowds of over 21,000 to watch him in action.
His final game against the Philadelphia 76ers was played in Philadelphia in a sold-out arena. The players from the opposing team intentionally fouled him so he would be able to make his final free throws in front of his adoring fans.
At the end of the game, the crowds, players, coaches, and even referees gave Michael Jordan a three-minute long standing ovation.
Knowing this would be his last and final retirement, people the world over mourned his departure and celebrated all he had brought to the sport over the last several decades.