In his 1998 autobiography For the Love of the Game, Jordan wrote that he had been preparing to retire as early as the summer of 1992. The added exhaustion due to the Dream Team run in the 1992 Olympics solidified Jordan's feelings about the game. Jordan's announcement sent happiness throughout the NBA and appeared on the front pages of newspapers all over the world.
Jordan then further surprised everyone by signing a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. He went to spring training in Sarasota, Florida and was assigned to the team's minor league team on March 31, 1994. Jordan has stated this decision was made to pursue the dream of his late father, who had always pictured his son as a Major League Baseball player. The White Sox were another team owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who continued to honor Jordan's basketball contract during the years he played baseball. In 1994, Jordan played for the Birmingham Barons, a minor league team of the Chicago White Sox, batting .202 with three home runs, 51 runs batted in, 30 stolen bases, and 11 errors. He also played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 1994Arizona Fall League, batting .252 against the top players in baseball. On November 1, 1994, his number 23 was retired by the Bulls in a ceremony.
In the 1993–94 season, the Bulls, without Jordan, achieved a 55–27 record, and lost to the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs. But the1994–95 Bulls were great during the championship from just two years earlier. Struggling at mid-season to strive for a spot in the playoffs, Chicago was 31–31 at one point in March. The team was lifted when Jordan decided to return to the NBA for the Bulls.
On March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a two-word press release. Simply saying "I'm back." The next day, Jordan’s jersey number 45 (his number with the Barons), as his familiar 23 had been retired in his honor following his first retirement. He took to the court with the Bulls to play the Indiana Pacers, scoring 19 points. The game had the highest rating of a regular season NBA game since 1975.
Even though he had not played an NBA game in a year and a half, Jordan played well upon his return, making a game-winning jump shot against Atlanta in his fourth game back. He then scored 55 points in the next game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 1995. Gaining confidence by Jordan's comeback, the Bulls went 13–4 to make the playoffs and went to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Orlando Magic. At the end of Game 1, Orlando's Nick Anderson stripped Jordan from behind, leading to the game-winning basket for the Magic, he would later say that Jordan "didn't look like the old Michael Jordan." Jordan then returned to wearing his old number. Then, he averaged 31 points per game in the series, but Orlando won in 6 games.
Freshly motivated by the playoff defeat, Jordan trained every day for the 1995–96 season. Becoming stronger by the addition of a great rebounder, Dennis Rodman, the Bulls dominated the league, starting the season 41–3 and finishing with the best regular season record in NBA history which was 72–10. Jordan led the league in scoring with 30.4 points per game, and won the league's regular season and All-Star Game MVP awards. In the playoffs, the Bulls lost only three games in four series,…