How Old Was Michael Jordan When He Retired?

Most NBA players have short careers. The league is incredibly tough, and sticking around for five or more seasons is something only a few athletes have ever been able to do. Everyone, no matter how good, retires at some point. However, a select few have done it more than once.

This guide breaks down Michael Jordan’s career by looking at his various retirements. Where some people only step away from the game once, Jordan did it multiple times. We’ll look at the reasons behind those decisions below.

A Complete Career

Typically, players retire once. They do it either because they can’t find a team to play on, fall out of love for the game, suffer from a rough injury, or are simply not as fast or as strong as they used to be. Everyone gets old, and age catches up to even the best athletes eventually.

However, most NBA players don’t quit due to age. Typically, other circumstances take them out. It’s only the select few star players who are lucky enough to retire after a long, fruitful career in the league. Jordan is a unique case because he falls into both categories.

Age did catch up to him, but he left due to other reasons as well.

A Shocking End

Jordan retired in 1993 at the age of 30. He also retired at 36, and once more at 40.

That may be confusing, but the G.O.A.T had a unique career. He didn’t just step away from the game once, he did it three different times for three different reasons.

Jordan’s first retirement came on the coattails of three incredibly impressive seasons. After struggling to win it all for nearly a decade, the Bulls guard came into his own. He ascended to greatness and won three championships in three years.

After dominating the NBA and taking home the three-peat, Jordan shocked the world by stepping away from the game to focus on baseball. Nobody truly knew why he made that choice, but rumors ran wild.

There was a lot of speculation he got caught gambling on the sport, some people thought it was tied to his father, and Jordan himself stated he always loved baseball. Either way, he was done.

That is, until he came back.

The Second (and Third) Return

Jordan stayed out of the NBA for two seasons, but his love for the game and fierce competitive spirit brought him back in 1995. Ready to get the band together again, he once again brought the Bulls into the spotlight and went on one of the best runs of all time.

Under his leadership, the franchise earned their second three-peat between 1995 and 1998. The Bulls were on to the top of the basketball world, and seemingly had nothing left to achieve. At the age of 36, he decided to step away once again.

His second retirement came from the fact that he felt as if he’d achieved everything he’d set out to do. He had six rings, five MVPs, and a hall of fame career. Jordan, however, wasn’t about to go out that easy. 

As with his first retirement, the great only left the NBA for two seasons. He came back for one last stint with the Wizards in the early 2000’s. This time, age caught up to him. He played well, but injuries kept him from being the Jordan of old. 

He stuck it out in Washington for two years before finally hanging it up for good at 40. This time, his storied career finally came to an end.

Final Words

For most players, retiring once is enough. However, Jordan did it three times and still managed to be the best of the best. It’s not that most athletes can’t retire more than once, it’s that they don’t have the skill to come back. Jordan did, and it separated him from everyone else.

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