“I was constantly busy with baseball”
In the summer of 1993, Michael Jordan shocked the sports world by retiring from the NBA. The basketball icon tragically lost his father to a brutal murder and no longer had any motivation to play the sport he dominated.
Jordan, however, did not remain in the shadows. Instead of being a normal citizen, the Chicago Bulls legend took his talents to the baseball field. His father always wanted him to play baseball, and MJ saw 1994 as the perfect time in his life to honor his late father by engaging in the sport he played religiously as a child.
Despite playing baseball, Jordan followed the Bulls by watching their games on television. He thought about picking up the phone a few times and calling them for advice, but he didn’t have time in the end.
Michael Jordan: I was constantly busy with baseball
Jordan said SLAM Magazine in 1997 that he was tempted to call the Bulls in the 1994 playoffs when the team battled the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. However, since he was busy with baseball, he never called.
“Yeah sure. You know, but I was constantly busy with baseball, so I mean, it was a temptation, but it wasn’t that long,” Jordan said.
The Bulls lost to the Knicks in the second round of the 1994 playoffs in seven games. Jordan struggled to see his former teammates lose, especially since he saw Scottie Pippen carry the load offensively without him being there.
“Very difficult,” Jordan said. “Because I knew that [Scottie] wasn’t getting fullness from his players, and he was carrying a lot of the load. It reminded me so much of when I was there earlier in my career.
The Bulls and Jordan had a few things in common in 1994. Chicago lost to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in Game 7 and His Airness fought for the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
Michael Jordan batted 114 times in 94
As most baseball experts predicted, Jordan struggled with the Barons. In 127 games, he hit .202 and struck out 114 holds. Jordan has never been called up to Triple-A or the major leagues.
The UNC product drove in 51 races and stole 30 bases. His manager, Terry Francona, said in The last dance docuseries that he thinks Jordan could have reached MLB if he had had more time to work on his craft.
“I can’t believe he hit .202 and completed 50 points,” Francona said. “We had a lot of good prospects who didn’t roll in 50 innings. In my opinion, with 1,500 at-bat, he would have found a way to get into the Major League.
Jordan was ready to play for the Barons again in 1995. However, a baseball strike began on August 12, 1994. The strike was suspended on April 2, 1995, after 232 days, but Jordan was already back in the NBA. with the Bulls at that time.
MJ returned to the Bulls in March 1995
Jordan’s love for basketball returned during the baseball strike. He began training at the Bulls facility and officially retired on March 18, 1995.
The Bulls lost to the Indiana Pacers in Jordan’s game opener. Black Jesus was rusty, shooting just 7 of 28 from the field for 19 points. However, he scored 27 points in his second game against the Boston Celtics and lost 55 points at Madison Square Garden in his fifth game.
Jordan and the Bulls were the fifth seed in the 1995 Eastern Conference playoffs. In the first round, they beat the Charlotte Hornets in four games and looked set for another title race. However, the Orlando Magic eliminated Chicago in the second round in six games.
Jordan had to transform his body from a basketball frame to a baseball frame to play for the Barons. He didn’t have enough time to return to a basketball corps for the Magic series.
The 1994 and 1995 playoffs were the only playoffs where the Bulls failed to win a title from 1991 to 1998. Some believe they could have won eight championships in a row if Jordan hadn’t played in baseball, but the Hall of Fame had to get away from hoops to deal with his father’s death, and he found peace in baseball.
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