Michael Jordan arguably is one of the best players the NBA has ever seen. Playing for 15 years in the league, MJ had one of the best careers ever with 6 NBA championships, 5 MVPs, 6 Finals MVPs, 14-All-Star appearances and was undoubtedly the best player in the 90s.
Given the impact he had on the game, Jordan made his number 23 jersey one of the most iconic numbers in league history. Now, some players in the league like LeBron James and Jimmy Butler wear the iconic number and are certainly the most important players in their respective teams.
When Michael Jordan wore number 45
While Jordan and the number 23 go hand in hand, he has worn some different jerseys as well. After the tragic murder of his father, MJ hung up his boots for the first time in 1993.
In his time away from the game, Jordan played minor league baseball for one and a half years. With ‘His Airness’ stepping away from the game, the Bulls did remain competitive but couldn’t challenge for the championship. Seeing his team struggling in the 1994-95 season, Jordan returned to Chicago in a last-ditch effort to compete for the championship.
But something was different about MJ this time. The 14-time All-Star wasn’t wearing his legendary 23 number of the jersey and had switched to a number 45 on his back. In an interview in Netflix’s special ‘the Last Dance‘, Jordan explained why he switched to number 45.
“I didn’t want to wear 23 because I knew my father wasn’t there to watch me, and I felt it was a new beginning and 45 was my first number when I was playing in high school,” he said.
But Jordan only stuck around with the number 45 for 22 games only and then switched back to 23.
Why did Jordan switch back to number 23?
While Jordan did have some impressive performances with jersey number 45, he also had his fair share of struggles. Going up against a young Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, the Bulls faced a massive challenge ahead of themselves.
In game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 1995, MJ’s Bulls took on the Magic. Jordan really struggled against the Magic shooting only 8 of 22 shots and scored only 19 points for the Bulls.
The most embarrassing moment for MJ was Orlando’s Nick Anderson stealing the ball in the last possession for Chicago. After the game, Anderson added insult to injury as he said, “‘45 isn’t 23.’”
Jordan immediately changed his jersey number in the upcoming games. The 5-time MVP explained why he changed the jersey number, and said, “I just felt like 45 wasn’t natural. I wanted to go back with the feeling I had with 23.”
While the switch to the 23 jersey did result in Jordan having better numbers, the Bulls were toothless and succumbed to a 4-2 series loss against Magic. But ‘His Airness‘ had a massive comeback with the Bulls. Winning 3 more championships, 3 final MVPs, and 2 MVP trophies, Jordan arguably became one of the best players ever to play the game.
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