What if Michael Jordan Never Came Back in 1994?
During the early 1990s in the NBA, Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan was on an absolute tear. Jordan’s Bulls won three straight NBA championships from 1991 to 1993. It was the first three-peat in the NBA since the Boston Celtics of the 1960s. Jordan also went on to win back-to-back MVP’s in 1991 and 1992 while winning finals MVP in all three championships.
After that dominant stretch, fans and media were shocked when Jordan announced his retirement after the 1993 championship. Retirement didn’t last long for Jordan though, as he would return and lead the Bulls to another three-peat. It was during this time that Michael Jordan gained the title of Greatest of All Time. It makes you think though. What if Jordan never returned to the NBA in 1994?
The What-if Scenario
How would it affect Michael Jordan?
If Jordan never returned to the league it would affect his legacy in the NBA, because his second three-peat carried a lot of weight. If he had stayed retired, the second three-peat would’ve never happened. That means Jordan would have just three championships and three league MVPs. So this means LeBron James or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would most likely take his “GOAT” title.
We would probably see Jordan as one of the greatest scorers of all time, but we wouldn’t see him as the greatest player. There’s also the potential that it would affect his brand. He would still have a successful brand, but his fourth, fifth, and sixth championships brought him an even greater audience. So, there’s a chance that the Jordan Brand wouldn’t be as popular as it is now.
How would it affect the Bulls?
Along with Jordan himself, his 1993 retirement would have affected everyone within the Bulls organization. Despite having a good year during the 1993-94 season without Jordan, there’s a chance that they would’ve unravelled earlier.
One reason for that is the strained relationship between GM Jerry Krause and superstar forward Scottie Pippen. Pippen demanded a trade during the 1997-98 season that Jordan made sure didn’t happen. Without Jordan there to stop it, the Pippen trade likely would’ve happened. There’s also the chance that the Bulls wouldn’t have gotten Dennis Rodman, because of Pippen’s relationship with Rodman before he became a Bull. Pippen didn’t like Rodman because of his rough and somewhat dirty play while he was on the Detroit Pistons.
How would it affect the NBA?
Jordan’s retirement would’ve certainly affected the NBA in many ways. With Jordan’s presence, he robbed a lot of NBA legends from winning or getting a chance to win championships. One of the Bulls’ biggest rivals during the playoffs was the New York Knicks with Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason in the frontcourt. They made the finals during Jordan’s hiatus, so they would likely have had other chances to go to the NBA Finals. There is also the chance that the Knicks rivalry with the Indiana Pacers would’ve grown more and they would be in a lot more playoff battles.
As for the Western Conference, there wouldn’t be much change in terms of the opponents. However, there would be a greater chance that the Seattle Supersonics or the Utah Jazz would have won a chip. With the duos of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp or Karl Malone and John Stockton adding rings to their resume.
The Legacy of Michael Jordan
With everything that could’ve happened, it’s obvious that Michael Jordan’s impact is unprecedented. He truly showed a display of dominance that few players have had. Even though Jordan didn’t give many chances for other legends to get rings in the 1990s, that shows how much of a factor he was in NBA history. That presence helped grow the NBA fanbase to where it is now. And because of that, Jordan’s legacy will live on forever.