Michael Jordan wouldn't officially retire until after the Lockout ended on January 13, 1999, but that didn't prevent MJ from leaving hints. In fact, here's a clip of celebs like Aaliyah talking about MJ's second retirement.
With the departure of Phil Jackson from the Chicago Bulls bench, leaving the game he loved became the easier route for the 6-time champion to take. Yeah it could have been a ploy to make David Stern buckle a little, but it's not like Jordan didn't bail before. The work stoppage and Chicago front office didn't help matters either.
It wasn't a retirement speech, but given the circumstances, it was pretty close.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since leading the Chicago Bulls to their sixth NBA title last month, Michael Jordan on Thursday said he is prepared to retire from professional basketball, reiterating his unwillingness to be part of any rebuilding process the team might undertake.
Jordan left the door to a possible return open slightly, saying he wouldn't make a ``final'' decision until the NBA lockout is over.
But he was adamant about not playing for any coach other than Phil Jackson - not for Tim Floyd, not for any of the NBA assistants who have been mentioned as possible Jackson successors.
Jackson resigned last month, citing his desire to take off a year from basketball and acknowledging an acrimonious relationship with the Bulls' front office. The chances of his returning are almost too remote to consider, so Jordan, in essence, was saying there is no scenario that will bring him back to basketball.
``I feel that way right now,'' Jordan said, speaking at an impromptu news conference after a round of golf in the Ameritech Senior Open Pro-Am at Kemper Lakes in Long Grove, Ill. ``Ask me in two or three months, and I may change. I don't think I will. I'm pretty sure that's my decision.
``To me it's not the same if you don't have everybody surrounding you and you have to get accustomed to another philosophy and another person,'' Jordan added in reference to management's apparent willingness to dismantle the Bulls' championship roster.
``I've always stuck to my guns. I always said I would not play without Phil Jackson. I haven't changed that.''
The key to Jordan's decision may well be Floyd, whom Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and General Manager Jerry Krause seem ready to anoint as the team's new coach as early as next week.
On Wednesday Reinsdorf repeated that Jordan would have input into the choice of the new coach, but not ``veto power.'' Reinsdorf also said he didn't believe the choice would have any effect on Jordan's future. But Jordan said the hiring of Floyd would be akin to Reinsdorf and Krause pushing him out of basketball.
``I think that's the case,'' Jordan said. ``That's exactly what it is.
``It's very obvious that my feelings haven't really been considered when they've made coaching decisions. In essence, I talked to Jerry Reinsdorf at the end of the season about the future, and I said that I just want to take time to make sure that my decisions are final. He understood. I don't want any input in the coaching, and he knows that.
``I never wanted to be involved in the process because I haven't been to this point,'' Jordan said.
Is Jordan leaving the door slightly ajar for a return?
``I'm happy that I have a choice [about playing],'' he said. ``That's the key - that I have a choice. I may wake up and change my mind.
``But if you ask me this moment the way I feel, I'm telling you this is the way I feel.''