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'A short vacation in baseball'...
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'A short vacation in baseball' - Michael Jordan's 1993 break | Off The Bull

Shane Hannon
Shane Hannon

11:12 12 May 2020

On the latest episode of Off The Bull, we delved deeper into Michael Jordan's two retirements - and just why he decided he needed a break from basketball in 1993.

Jordan's father had just been killed and he decided in October 1993 to shock the world by retiring from the NBA - ultimately signing a Minor League Baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Jordan played, with decent levels of success, for the White Sox-affiliated Birmingham Barons in Alabama in 1994.

On our latest episode of Off The Bull, Eoin Sheahan was joined by Kieran Donaghy, Jarlath Regan and Ronan Mullen to analyse episodes seven and eight.

Jarlath says Jordan's reason to retire both in 1993 and ultimately in 1998 has to be down to the fact that no human being can sustain that level of pressure for so long.

"I bring up this conversation a couple of times because it's the closest insight I have to the answer to that question. That's with Roland Lazenby, who I spoke to a couple of weeks ago, who wrote the biography Michael Jordan: The Life, which is THE partner book for this.

"If people are looking for reading around this it's his two books Blood on the Horns and The Life, [and] maybe Sam Smith's The Jordan Rules.

"He [Lazenby] said that when George Mumford, the sports psychologist, came to see the Bulls and see Jordan up close for the first time, it was post-retirement [return].

"He watched him go as hard as we're seeing him go in training, refusing to lose any of the drills. Even in this episode we can see the running suicides, and he's not going to lose a suicide run against anybody.

"Mumford is impressed, and says 'I can't wait to see what happens when he lets down.' When does he release? When does this valve get let off? He watched it and watched it, and eventually came to the conclusion - it doesn't.

"This is how hard he goes all the time, there's no breaks. He drives himself to breakdown twice - 1993 and 1998. He is at the verge of a breakdown, because no human can sustain that level of exertion.

"The outcome was two early retirements. That straight-line level of intensity? Unsustainable. To walk away at the end of this it has to be the exhaustion he talks about.

"He referenced it in episode one - 'I took a short vacation in baseball'. That's how he sees it now with a bit of dust settled."

Kieran Donaghy agreed and said the baseball stint was almost Jordan re-charging his batteries to go again in basketball.

"He was killing two birds with the one stone as well because I think he was following on from his Dad's wishes. He had peace of mind, he was doing something he loved doing, he had a completely new challenge.

"People said he wasn't going to hit a ball, and all of a sudden he's out there and doing well. Then he calls up B.J. Armstrong and asks 'What are you doing today?'

"That was him plugging out his iPhone at 100 per cent, he wanted more and he wanted it now. That first three or four months the body just wasn't ready for it, as soon as he met his [personal trainer] the morning afterwards the plan had been hatched to get his body back in basketball shape.

"He references the shoulders... and he had to get a lot of stuff right in his body. Once he did that his energy was there to do it.

"I agree with Jarlath - at the end of 1993 and the end of 1998 this guy couldn't keep up that level of insatiable desire to win and to prove people wrong. He's making up stories to prove people wrong, that's how much the guy is driven."

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Read more about

Basketball Chicago Bulls Eoin Sheahan Jarlath Regan Kieran Donaghy Last Dance Michael Jordan NBA Off The Ball Off The Bull Otb Am Ronan Mullen The Last Dance

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