Michael Jordan Was 'Way Past Exhausted' After 3rd Straight NBA Title in 1993

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2020

The Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan celebrates after the Bulls beat the Phoenix Suns 99-98 to win their third consecutive NBA title in Phoenix, June 20, 1993. Jordan scored 33 points and now holds the record for the highest scoring average in finals history, 41.0, eclipsing Rick Barry's 1967 standard of 40.8. (AP Photo/John Swart)
JOHN SWART/Associated Press

While much of Sunday's episodes of The Last Dance documentary detailed Michael Jordan's ascent into global icon status through an Olympic gold medal, a second and third championship, and head-turning endorsement deals, it wasn't always glamorous for the Chicago Bulls star.

Toward the end of the sixth episode, Jordan opened up about how exhausted he was following the Bulls' victory over the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals.

"Physically I was exhausted, but mentally I was way past exhausted," he said, per ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "When you try to do something repetitively, you lose some of the hunger, and some of the edge."

John Paxson, who hit what proved to be the winning shot in the decisive Game 6, said, "Being around him, there was more like relief than true joy." 

Jordan's overall exhaustion under the weight of the fame, expectations and physical toll it all was taking was the focal point of a segment on Sunday's broadcast breaking down the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks.

While they may not have been the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons, those Knicks embraced a physical style of play with notable frontcourt players in Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason, among others. They never hesitated to foul Jordan, especially when he attacked the rim and tried to take off for one of his gravity-defying dunks.

It wasn't just that, though, as he infamously visited Atlantic City on a gambling trip prior to Chicago's loss in Game 2.

That set off a press storm where almost every question surrounding Jordan was about his gambling. It reached a point when His Airness refused to talk to the media for the rest of the Eastern Conference Finals.

He broke that silence with an exclusive interview with Ahmad Rashad prior to the NBA Finals against Phoenix.

The exhaustion surely played a role in Jordan's retirement in the wake of that series, although he eventually returned to the game following a baseball stint and won three more championships.

Perhaps Jordan would have won seven or eight titles if he never walked away to play baseball (or didn't retire following the 1998 NBA Finals for the second time), but Sunday's episodes made it clear he was burnt out following his first three-peat.