Thursday, March 20, 2014

Michael Jordan Returns

On March 19, 1995, Michael Jordan returns to the Chicago Bulls to beat the Indiana Pacers. The return from Jordan to the NBA came after a 17-month retirement, in which he played baseball for the Chicago White Sox minor league team the Birmingham Barons.

Michael Jordan with the Chicago White Sox in Spring Training of 1994.
On March 18, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a two-word press release: "I'm back." The next day, Jordan donned jersey number 45 (his number with the Barons), as his familiar 23 had been retired in his honor following his first retirement. He took to the court with the Bulls to face the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, scoring 19 points.

The game had the highest Nielsen rating of a regular season NBA game since 1975.

Michael Jordan wearing the jersey No. 45 upon his return to the Chicago Bulls ii the March 19, 1995 game against the Indiana Pacers.

Although he hadn't played an NBA game in a year and a half, Jordan played well upon his return, making a game-winning jump shot against Atlanta in his fourth game back. He then scored 55 points in the next game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 1995 (his first appearance at Madison Square Garden since retiring). Boosted by Jordan's comeback, the Bulls went 13–4 to make the playoffs and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Orlando Magic.

Though at the end of Game 1, Orlando's Nick Anderson stripped Jordan from behind, leading to the game-winning basket for the Magic; he would later comment that Jordan "didn't look like the old Michael Jordan", after which Jordan returned to wearing his old number. Jordan averaged 31 points per game in the series, but Orlando prevailed in six games.

The return of the Jordan to the NBA was good for television and the league, but even greater for the Bulls. His “Airness” would lead the Bulls to their second three-peat championships from 1996-1998.

Jordan is talked about as one of the best players of all-time, and with good reason he won six NBA Championships, earning the NBA Finals MVP each time. He was named the NBA’s MVP five times, an All-Star 14 times, and the MVP of the All-Star game three times. He was a 10 time NBA scoring champion, and three times the NBA steals champ, he was also a two time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1988.

He was nominated to the All-NBA First Team 10 times, Second Team once, All-Defensive First Team nine times, the All-Rookie First Team as well being named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1985.

The Miami Heat has retired twice by the Bulls and Jordan/s no. 23 jersey once. He was named to the NBA’s 50 Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.

In his career Jordan scored 32,292 points for an average of 30.1 points per game. Only he and Wilt Chamberlain have averaged 30 or more points per game over their entire career. He also pulled in 6,672 rebounds and 5.633 assists. Jordan still ranks third all-time in steals with 2,514 trailing John Stockton and Jason Kiss.

In August 2009, the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, opened a Michael Jordan exhibit containing items from his college and NBA careers, as well as from the 1992 "Dream Team".

Jordan also won two Gold medals with Team USA at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.

After Jordan received word of his being accepted into the Hall of Fame, he selected Class of 1996 member David Thompson to present him. As Jordan would later explain during his induction speech in September 2009, growing up in North Carolina, he was not a fan of the Tar Heels, and greatly admired Thompson, who played at rival North Carolina State.

He was inducted into the Hall in September, with several former Bulls teammates in attendance, including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Charles Oakley, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, and Toni Kukoc.  Former coaches of Jordan's, Dean Smith and Doug Collins, were also among those present.