In October 1993, just one day before the training camp for the Chicago Bulls ’93 – ’94 season, Michael Jordan dropped jaws all over the world. The NBA star had announced his retirement from basketball. The early retirement of the greatest basketball player of all time took the whole world by surprise.
Michael Jordan was only 30 years old and at the prime of his career when he decided to hang up his boots. Following his retirement, Jordan played professional baseball with the Birmingham Barons, a minor league, but never achieved a spot in the major league, as he had previously planned.
All of which leveraged various rumors around Jordan’s sudden decision to leave the sport. In 1993, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their third consecutive NBA title. Right after that, the basketball star announced his retirement from the basketball league without further explanation. Later, he revealed that it was due to his father’s murder, and he wanted to honor his dad. James Jordan was tragically murdered three months before Jordan’s announcement. The murder was reported as a result of a robbery gone wrong. A 17-year-old pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the James Jordan case. Another man was arrested, an alleged friend and accomplice. The basketball legend opened up about his father’s death in one of the episodes of the Netflix docuseries “The Last Dance.” He shared that his dad motivated him, resulting in a close relationship that made Jordan consider his father “his rock.”
During one of the episodes, Jordan recalled the last conversation with his father. He revealed he was already considering retirement for some time. According to him, James encouraged him to move to baseball: “We were debating about me playing baseball. Dad, I want to go play baseball. I’m thinking about retiring, I want to go play baseball. He was saying, ‘Do it, do it. ‘”However, in 1995, after 13 months of playing in a minor baseball league, Jordan contacted his agent, David Falk, who sent a fax to NBA in his regard with MJ’s two words: “I’m back.” Jordan’s departure from the Bulls and his subsequent return caused a frenzy and opened up the door for many theories. One of them was that his short-lived retirement was a cover-up to hide a gambling suspension. According to some people who believe in the abovementioned theory, it was in the NBA’s best interest to keep this quiet to preserve the league and its star player. In 1992, before his retirement, the NBA launched an investigation into Jordan’s gambling centered around checks found during criminal investigations. Officials found one during a crime scene investigation of the murder of a bail bondsman.
Investigators found that a man charged with high-stakes gambling has the second check in his possession. The man was convicted for several charges, including drug possession and money laundering. NBA Commissioner David Stern closed the investigation stating that Jordan was cleared and had done nothing wrong. Later, during a public statement, the basketball legend raised the possibility of making a comeback: “Five years down the line if that urge comes back, if the Bulls have me, if David Stern lets me back in the league, I may come back.”
Jordan’s speech raised some brows and fed into the conspiracy theories. Fortunately, the NBA does not have any rules against gambling, and since Jordan wasn’t under investigation by law enforcement, the league wanted to make sure he had no connection with high-stakes gamblers. Whether the theory is just conspiracy or not, Jordan shared his thoughts about the rumors during the same “The Last Dance” episode: “I didn’t retire because he kicked me out or they suspended me for a year and a half. That is not true. There is no truth to that. I needed a break. You know, my father just passed, and I retired.”