Michael Jordan recalled in Episode 7 of “The Last Dance” on Sunday that one of the last conversations he had with his father before he died was about playing baseball.
Jordan said that conversation and the death of his father, James, led to him retiring from the Chicago Bulls to play baseball in 1993.
“We were debating, me and him, we were debating about me playing baseball,” Jordan said. “Dad, ‘I want to go play baseball. I’m thinking about retiring. I wanna go play baseball.’ All the things that he was saying, ‘Do it. Do it.’ Because he had got me started in baseball.”
As Jordan retired, rumors began to swirl about whether the basketball great’s connections in the gambling arena led to his father’s death. Additionally, rumors about a possible NBA suspension over his gambling led to the suspension. Jordan touched on the rumors during the episode.
“It did hurt,” Jordan said. “But you had people that were throwing darts who wanted to hurt me anyway. It wasn’t from the people that I loved or the people that knew me and people that cared. It was people that got tired of me being on top.”
The episode put to rest any speculation that Jordan’s gambling was the reason why he retired.
“The folklore, the urban legend that I sent him away because he was gambling. No basis in fact,” former NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
For an insider's perspective on "The Last Dance," check out Fox Nation's new show "Guarding Jordan," where former NBA star and coach Jeff Hornacek reflects on going head-to-head against the NBA superstar in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals.