In October 1993, Michael Jordan retired from the NBA to pursue a career in professional baseball. On this day – March 18 – in 1995, he returned.
And he did so ceremoniously. Though the very beginning of his second stint in Chicago culminated in an Eastern Conference Finals exit, the ensuing three years all ended in titles, with Jordan picking up two regular-season MVPs and three Finals MVPs along the way. To those that knew and revered Jordan, the hardware comes as no surprise.
But as it turns out, Jordan didn’t wait to officially return to the league before beginning to bust dudes up. In a preview for NBC Sports Chicago’s 30-minute «I’m Back» documentary, members of the mid-90s Warriors recalled Jordan swinging by a team practice of theirs in Oakland as his first retirement stint was winding down – and bringing his A-game.
«I was injured at the time so I do remember Michael coming down to practice and we’re basically the same size, the same sneaker size,» then-Warriors forward Chris Mullin said. «I think we had Tim Hardaway and Latrell Sprewell at that point in time. They might have been popping off a little bit. Michael said, ‘Mully, let’s go – get me your gear.’
«He went to my locker – put my gear on – and went out there and basically single-handedly beat the Warriors down by himself. And that’s when I was like, ‘this guy is coming back.'»
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Old friend and Golden State assistant coach Rod Higgins was Jordan’s ‘in’ with the Warriors, though Higgins said he wasn’t sure that head coach Don Nelson would like the idea.
«I was on my way to practice and he called and said ‘do you think it’s okay if I practice with you guys?’ And then I said ‘I don’t think so, but let me call Nellie (Don Nelson),'» Higgins said. «Nellie’s response was ‘hell yeah.'»
«He ramped up the practice,» Hardaway added.
To those that knew and revered Jordan, none of that should come as a surprise either.
The story of a still-retired Michael Jordan dominating a Warriors practice originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago