Michael Jordan Explains 1993 Retirement Was Due to Father's Murder, Not NBA Ban

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

DEERFIELD, IL - OCTOBER 6: Michael Jordan 
#23 of the Chicago Bulls speaks at his Retirement Press Conference on October 6, 1993 at the Chicago Bulls Practice Facility in in Deerfield, Illinois.  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 1988 NBAE (Photo by Lou Capozzola/NBAE via Getty Images)
Lou Capozzola/Getty Images

Despite speculation about a secret ban from the NBA, Michael Jordan reiterated on "The Last Dance" that his first retirement from basketball was his own decision. 

"I didn't retire because the league kicked me out or they suspended me for a year-and-a-half. That is not true," Jordan said on Sunday's episode, per Mark Medina of USA Today. "There's no truth to that. I needed a break. My father just passed. I retired with the notion I wasn't going to come back.

Jordan was on top of the basketball world after the 1992-93 season, winning his third straight title with the Chicago Bulls. He had won the scoring title for his seventh straight season and already had three MVP awards on his resume.

However, his father, James Jordan Sr., was killed in July of that year, and it took an emotional toll on Michael.

In October of 1993, Jordan retired from basketball and announced he would play baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization. He returned to the court 18 months later in the middle of the 1994-95 season and won three more titles with the Bulls.

Despite the player's claim that he wanted time away from the sport, rumors have persisted that his gambling was a factor in his exit, as former Chicago Tribune writer Skip Bayless recently explained:

UNDISPUTED @undisputed

"What I always heard in my year in Chicago around the '98 Bulls was that Jordan's break from basketball had a lot to do with gambling. Even the appearance of it got so bad that David Stern, who denied this repeatedly, encouraged Michael to step away." — @RealSkipBayless https://t.co/HqdsLLLLwx

Jordan notably went to Atlantic City to gamble in the middle of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks.

Then-commissioner David Stern repeatedly denied this rumor.

"The urban legend that I sent him away because he was gambling—ridiculous," Stern said on "The Last Dance," via ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "No basis in fact, whatsoever. It's just not true. Never was, never will be—no matter how many times I'm asked the question."