Michael Jordan May Have Never Returned to NBA if 1994 MLB Strike Didn't Happen

Michael Jordan as a member of the Chicago White Sox organization
Michael Jordan as a member of the Chicago White Sox organization / Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Back in 1993, Michael Jordan won three championships with the Bulls then decided to walk away to pick up a bat and play baseball at a professional level. Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf decided to bring MJ in for Spring Training with big league club. He ultimately ended up playing out the season in Double-A with the Birmingham Barons.

In last weekend's episodes of “The Last Dance” documentary on ESPN, then-Birmingham manager Terry Francona, hitting coach Mike Barnett and Reinsdorf himself all mentioned that Jordan had the potential to play at the highest level in the Show if he had stuck with the game long enough. One of the main factors that kept MJ from reaching that level was the 1994 MLB players strike -- but what if it didn’t happen?

The baseball strike of 1994 was the culmination of a revenue sharing dispute between players and owners in light of the lack of salary cap. The players association opted for a work stoppage, which lasted a total of 232 days and cancelled the remainder of the season before the MLBPA and the league came to a new agreement in April 1995.

Jordan was not willing to cross the picket line and play as a replacement player, and decided that it would be best to return back to the NBA around the same time the strike ended.

Money was not an issue for MJ while playing baseball, as Reinsdorf had agreed to pay Jordan his Bulls salary in full. If the strike hadn't happened, MJ’s work ethic and obsession with being the best would have given him a real chance to make it to the bigs one day. If that really did happen, the Bulls' second three-peat may have been nothing more than a dream.