Michael Jordan stunned the world with two simple words 25 years ago.
In an era before innovative social media announcements were the norm, Jordan released a statement through his management company “in response to questions about his future career plans” on March 18, 1995.
His response of “I’m back” signalled the return to basketball of one of the all-time greats.
Here, to mark the anniversary of that press release being issued, we look at Jordan and other greats who performed retirement U-turns.
Whether you are an ardent NBA fan or have simply seen Space Jam, you know the story. Chicago Bulls star Jordan retired in 1993 after his team three-peated and shortly after his father’s death, stating that “the desire is just not there any more”.
For the next year, Jordan turned to baseball as a minor league player as he pursued a dream his father had of his son making it in the MLB. Then, amid rumours he was heading back to the NBA, came that Jordan utterance: “I’m back”.
Two words rocked the NBA 25 years ago: pic.twitter.com/xeuzReDZKS
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 18, 2020
The Bulls, led by perhaps the greatest ever, would win three successive championships again between 1996 and 1998 at which point Jordan retired once more. He then came back for a two-year stint with the Washington Wizards before finally calling it a day once and for all in 2003.
Seven-time Formula One champion Schumacher was 37 when he announced the 2006 season – when he was pipped to the title by Fernando Alonso – would be his last.
However, he remained around F1 as an advisor for Ferrari and returned for Mercedes to race in 2010 saying: “I have the energy back.”
He would appear on the podium just once across three seasons, though, and he retired again in 2012, a year before he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident.
A former world number one and the 2005 US Open champion, Clijsters retired at the age of 23 due to a series of punishing injuries.
Clijsters got married and gave birth in her time away from sport, and then after appearing in an exhibition match held at Wimbledon in 2009, the Belgian returned to the WTA Tour. In just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open, becoming the first unseeded woman to win the tournament in the Open era and the first mother to win a grand slam since 1980.
She triumphed at Flushing Meadows again in 2010 and won the Australian Open in 2011, recently returning to tennis for a third time after a seven-year hiatus.
A comeback for the history books…
Will Kim Clijsters be back in the winners circle next year? pic.twitter.com/NRQsYU8Eas
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 12, 2019
American Armstrong retired as a seven-time Tour de France champion in 2005. But the story, of course, didn’t end there.
Dogged by doping allegations during his career, Armstrong faced questions again when he returned, aged 37, in 2009 and finished third in that year’s Tour.
Armstrong retired once more in 2011 while he was the subject of a federal investigation into doping allegations. Another probe from the United States Anti-Doping Agency led to charges which resulted in Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour titles in 2012, with the cyclist publicly coming clean on his doping the following year.
There was a full decade between Foreman’s 47th and 48th fights.
He lost on points to Jimmy Young in 1977, falling ill in the dressing room after the bout and suffering what he said was a near-death experience, leading him to find God.
A born-again Christian, Foreman returned at 38. Despite defeats to Evander Holyfield and Tommy Morrison in title bouts, Foreman would become heavyweight champion of the world again in 1994 – at the grand old age of 45 – by stopping Michael Moorer.
Might have some issues; drugs, alcohol or Diet, we get knocked down. Remember, the count stops when you get up. Let’s get up pic.twitter.com/cvo6ABgswW
— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) August 15, 2019
Long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Favre, the king of indecision, bowed out from the NFL in March 2008, passing the baton to a certain Aaron Rodgers. However, he had a change of heart four months later. The Packers, who wanted to move on with Rodgers, traded Favre to the New York Jets.
After one season with Gang Green, Favre retired again. And then he performed another U-turn, paving the way for him to join the Minnesota Vikings, one of Green Bay’s arch-rivals.
He enjoyed by far the best year of his career with the Vikings in terms of quarterback rating (107.2) but Minnesota lost the NFC Championship Game. More indecision followed after that, though 2010 would prove to be the final year of a Hall of Fame career.