No professional athlete had carried a sport and a league like Michael Jordan. In his last appearance, in the 1993 NBA Finals, the NBA’s premier event drew larger TV ratings than the baseball’s World Series for the first time. Michael Jordan was the greatest athlete on the planet and people were fascinated with his artistry on the basketball court. After his retirement, the NBA did not feel the same. A player like Michael Jordan was desperately needed to take the league to the next level.
The Greatest Fax
Two decades ago, on March 18, 1995, Michael Jordan sent the NBA the greatest fax ever in the history of the NBA:
Washington, DC. (March 18, 1995) – The following statement was released today by Michael Jordan, through his personal attorney and business manager David B. Falk, Chairman of Falk Associates Management Enterprises, Inc. (“FAME”) located in Washington, D.C., in response to questions about his future career plans:
It was classic Michael Jordan.
The news of “Air” Michael Jordan coming back to the NBA not only rocked the sports world, but also excited me. I miss watching him slam dunk on big guys, shoot his trademark fadeaway jump shot, and win championships. The world was full of jubilation including then-U.S. President Bill Clinton as he expressed jokingly in a press conference:
“The economy has produced 6.1 million jobs since I became president and if Michael Jordan comes back to the Bulls, it will be 6,100,001 jobs.”
On March 19, 1995, Michael Jordan made his return to the NBA. I remember that day like if it was yesterday. I had my VHS tape ready to record my first basketball game on NBC-TV, which was Jordan’s first game since retiring from the NBA after the 1993 NBA season. When I saw the footage of Michael Jordan warming up in Market Square Arena, a smile danced across my face. He’s Back was the words that immediately roamed in my head. I still could not believe Michael Jordan was back!
For 21 months, the NBA was without its greatest player and nobody in the league was able to fill that void. Now, the best basketball player in the world was ready to take back his number one spot in the NBA. I prayed that he’d win his first game back because I hated the Indiana Pacers.
When Michael Jordan was introduced, there were both cheers and some boos from the fans of Indiana. The arena was packed and electric. It almost felt like a Playoff game. Clearly, Michael Jordan created the spectacle. He donned jersey number 45 (his number with the Barons), as his familiar jersey number 23 had been retired following his first retirement.
Michael Jordan showed his rust early as he missed his first few shots. The Pacers would take a big lead, ahead by 18 points in the first half before Jordan made his first basket on a jumper against Reggie Miller. The Bulls would send the game into overtime. Nevertheless, the Pacers would endure and win.
That night against the Indiana Pacers, Michael Jordan had 19 points on 7-of-28 shooting, along with six assists, six rebounds, and three steals. The game had the highest Nielsen rating of a regular season NBA game since 1975.
By Shamarie, 19th Mar 2015