Justin Lovell, Sports Editor
Following the 1993 NBA season Michael Jordan was riding higher than any other player to date. He was coming off his third straight championship, a feat very few ever reach. However, right before the 1994 season, Jordan decided to call it quits and trade in his basketball shoes for baseball cleats. That didn’t last too long, as he returned to the NBA in 1995 to lead the Bulls to three more titles. In this weeks “What If”, we look at how the NBA might have looked had Jordan stayed retired and played baseball instead.
Following Jordan’s retirement, the league all took a sigh of relief as now any team again had a legitimate shot of winning the title. The 1994 and 1995 seasons are still the same, with the Houston Rockets winning back to back titles. 1996 is when it becomes interesting again. The Seattle Supersonics dominate the NBA behind the duo of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, followed closely by the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, as they were able to keep Shaquille O’Neal, as well as the Rockets.
These four teams all have one thing in common, a dominant big man. The NBA pre-Jordan was ruled by big men and that trend will continue again. The Sonics win it all in 1996, then the Knicks in 1997 before the Magic go on their run, much like how the Lakers did in real life. The Magic win it all in 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2003, with the Spurs with Tim Duncan winning in 1999 and 2002 to fill in the gaps.
The ramifications following Jordan’s retirement are felt all through the league, as well as the sports world. The Chicago Bulls never become the dynasty they could have been, Space Jam never happens and Jordan is better remembered as the greatest player that ever could have been, instead of the greatest of all time.