Did you really believe he’d stay away from the game? Just three years after his formal retirement from the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan announced his return to the game of basketball on this day in 2001. But His Airness wouldn’t be joining the team that he won 6 NBA titles with; instead he became a member of the Washington Wizards.
Jordan’s announcement came on September 25, 2001, just weeks after the September 11 attacks. Due to the timing, the press release was put on hold out of respect. Jordan also announced that his playing salary would be donated to the relief efforts of the attacks. Years prior, in January of 1999, Jordan claimed to be “99.9% certain” that he wouldn’t play in another professional basketball game. However, after witnessing hockey’s Mario Lemieux complete a successful comeback, MJ was inspired to give it a shot. Before long, Michael was back on the hardwood, and he played two seasons with the Washington Wizards before finally hanging up his Air Jordans for good.
During his comeback, MJ wore the latest legacy models of the era, including the Air Jordan XVI, XVII, and XVIII. The Wizards colors also gave him an opportunity to break out a classic colorway he never had a chance to wear as a Chicago Bull, the Air Jordan III “True Blue.” Released in 2001, this retro rendition featured a visible Air unit and supple full grain leather. Since then, the “True Blue” Jordan III has been re-released in 2009 and 2011, however these variations aren’t recommended for serious levels of play.