Basketball legend Michael Jordan's first retirement, in 1993, remains a matter of debate and controversy.
Officially, Jordan's reasons were pretty straightforward: He had reached almost every peak he could as a player and the game simply no longer demanded his full attention. Simply put, he lost his desire for the game and the trappings of celebrity.
Tragedy undeniably played a part. Earlier that year, his father was murdered by two teens at a highway rest area.Things were a bit more unusual and complex, however. Shocker No. 1: Jordan shifted sports and signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. Shocker No. 2: Rumors circulated, gaining momentum from the imprint of sports writers, that Jordan's admitted proclivity as a high-stakes gambler may have played a role in his decision to retire. Though never proven, it was speculated Jordan's decision was a move by the NBA and its biggest player to save face from what might otherwise be a suspension-related league violations. News items, such as Jordan's payment of $57,000 to cover gambling losses to a known drug dealer, did nothing to squelch suspicions there was a double secret probation at work. In March 1995, Jordan announced he would again play for the Bulls. His press release, in substance, was a mere two words: "I'm back." Jordan's second retirement came in 1999, amid a changing of the guard for the Bulls that saw the departure of coach Phil Jackson and teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Jordan shifted into a new role within the NBA as part owner of the Washington Wizards. By 2001, Jordan was again floating trial balloons about returning to the court. That led to an announcement he would indeed play for the Wizards, donating his salary to 9/11-related charities. He lasted just 60 games before being sidelined by a knee injury. Retirement No. 3 came at the end of that season. Jordan is currently majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.