KEY POINTS

  • A former Chicago Bulls star revealed real reason why Michael Jordan retired in 1993
  • Former Bulls star saw Jordan's first retirement as blessing in disguise for him
  • Jordan commended Scottie Pippen's leadership during his absence

A former Chicago Bulls star revealed the real reason why Michael Jordan decided to retire in 1993.

In 1993, the Chicago Bulls played a whole season without Jordan. On that same year, Toni Kukoč decided it was time to go across the ocean and seal a deal with the Bulls. At the time, not a lot of players went to the NBA from Europe and the few that did had a hard time earning regular minutes. Kukoč knew he had a lot to prove, mainly because he was joining the best team on the planet.

The Croatian NBA legend “felt the need for a challenge and said to himslef, “Let’s try it in the NBA.” Kukoč ended up like most European players and played limited minutes and had an uphill battle to prove himself. But on the day he arrived in Chicago, a piece of news broke that rocked the basketball world – Jordan announced he was retiring.

In an interview with Večernji List transcripted by Basketball Network, Kukoč revealed the real reason why Jordan decided to retire while he was regarded as the best player in the world. According to Kukoč, Jordan has had enough of all the pressure and drama associated with his name and the murder of his father was the “ straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“He [Jordan] said he’d had enough, that he wasn’t practicing with the same fire as he did before. Then his father got murdered, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was sitting there with players I had just met, and they were all crying. Suddenly, I was crying as well.”

Kukoč was saddened by MJ’s decision. However, it was also a blessing in disguise for him. Jordan being out of the picture enabled him to play most minutes at his natural position playing alongside Scottie Pippen, who proved that he wasn’t just the “No. 2” guy in the Bulls.

After missing one whole season, Jordan decided to return. Moments before his grand comeback with the Bulls, MJ commented on Pippen and said that what separates Pippen from the pack is that he could maintain his consistency by regularly finding different challenges to always make himself a better player.

“I think that is one thing about the great players and the good players. Great players do it every night, and good players do it once in a while. I think Scottie [Pippen] understands the difference between the two, and he certainly has the talent and the credibility to do both,” Jordan said.