Why did Michael Jordan once wear 12

NBA: Why did Michael Jordan wear jersey number 45 after his baseball break with the Chicago Bulls?

In March 1995 Michael Jordan shook the sports world with a legendary fax: "I'm Back" was his message, the baseball interlude ended. A little later he played again for the Chicago Bulls - but with jersey number 45 instead of 23. Why actually?

When Jordan returned to the NBA, his career had only been "ended" in the end a year and a half. Nonetheless, the Bulls had already nailed their heads and not only placed an MJ statue in front of the United Center in Chicago in December 1994, but also pulled his jersey with the number 23 under the ceiling.

As is well known, this forbids all players of the respective team to wear this shirt number and is intended to honor team legends. In Jordan's case, however, that fact was not the reason for his new No. 45 - since it was his own jersey, he could have taken the No. 23 out of retirement immediately.

He made a conscious decision against it for other reasons, at least for the time being.

Michael Jordan honored his father at 45

Jordan had also worn the # 45 on his baseball stint with the Birmingham Barons. Primarily for sentimental reasons: He already wore this number in high school until he was promoted to the varsity team, in which his older brother Larry already wore this number. Jordan divided the 45 by 2 (22.5), rounded it up - and the cornerstone for what is perhaps the most famous "player / number combination" in NBA history was laid.

However, when Jordan came back from baseball, he wanted to stick with 45. He explained the reason for this in his autobiography "For the Love of the Game": "When I came back, I didn't want to wear the same number that my father had last seen me with. Since he was no longer there, I saw my return as New beginning. "

Jordan's father, James, was murdered in July 1993. Even his decision to play baseball was in part a dedication to James Jordan, with whom he had always had a very close relationship. Back in 1990, his father suggested to MJ to give his favorite sport, baseball, another chance.

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At No. 45, however, Jordan only stayed 22 games. The Bulls lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1995 against Orlando Magic because Jordan had Nick Anderson steal the ball - an uncharacteristic faux pas for the superstar. "Number 45 is not number 23," Anderson said afterwards. "I couldn't have done that against number 23."

Jordan saw it similarly and switched back to the old shirt number for his 23rd game. To the annoyance of the NBA: The Bulls had to pay a fine of $ 25,000 for each remaining game in the series because it was forbidden to change numbers in the middle of the season. The then Deputy NBA Commissioner Russ Granik even threatened further consequences in a letter.

Michael Jordan's stats after his comeback

Regular season1726,941,16,95,3

Michael Jordan once wore the number 12

However, it stayed at "only" $ 100,000 because the Bulls lost the series to Orlando and were eliminated from the playoffs - for Jordan it was the first lost playoff series since 1990 and even the last of his career. In the summer he officially switched back to 23 and made the jersey with the number 45 a collector's item.

"When I came back, I thought 45 was perfect because I had a connection with it," said Jordan. "Bad luck. It didn't take long for me to get back to 23. It was a part of me, but not in the professional basketball environment."

After all, it was a conscious decision. Before that, Jordan had only failed to wear the 23 once in his career - on Valentine's Day 1990, he also played against Orlando, with the 12. Back then, however, the reason was different: someone had stolen Jordan's jersey and the Bulls had no replacement with them.