Magic Johnson Reveals Never-Told Story About Michael Jordan Telling Him to Retire

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 22, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CA - 1996: Magic Johnson #32 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls hug circa 1996 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Michael Jordan is never one to hold back when he has something to say, and he wasn't afraid to be blunt with Magic Johnson after the Los Angeles Lakers legend returned to the NBA in 1996.

Johnson walked away from the league before the 1991-92 season following his HIV diagnosis. He subsequently came back for the second half of the 1995-96 season.

Upon the conclusion of a game against the Chicago Bulls that year, Jordan suggested to Johnson he should retire. The Hall of Fame point guard offered the anecdote on Jimmy Kimmel Live (via Yahoo's Stephen Proctor).

"Michael, after that game, he pulled me aside—I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this. He met me in between the locker rooms, and he said, ‘Earvin, you have to remember now, you’re not with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], you’re not with James Worthy. All the guys you used to play with, Showtime, are not on that Laker team anymore. So remember, maybe you should think about retiring,'" Johnson said.

The Lakers suffered a 99-84 defeat to the Bulls in Johnson's second game back. In 32 minutes, Johnson had 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal.

The 62-year-old told Kimmel that Bulls squad "really showed me the difference between a championship team and a playoff team." Chicago won 72 games that year, while Los Angeles earned 53 victories en route to a first-round exit at the hands of the Houston Rockets.

Johnson ultimately took Jordan's advice and retired for good in May 1996.