Michael Jordan jersey change: why did his Airness switch from 45 to 23?

Michael Jordan, since his 1984 debut ruled the court with unmatched dominance and his influence even transcended beyond the boundaries of the NBA. Despite being thwarted by the “Bad Boys” of Pistons, MJ went on to achieve his crowning moment with the Bulls “three-peat” in 1991-93.

But there was more astonishment left to be unfolded as his Airness shocked the world with his retirement in 1993 to pursue a baseball career. After a trip to the minor baseball league MJ returned in 1995 but something was off. His legendary number 23 was not at the back of his jersey and was replaced by 45.

Why did Michael Jordan changed back to 23 from 45?

In an episode of Podcast P with Paul George, basketball coach and former NBA player Brian Shaw narrated how the Bulls star got taunted during a playoff game against the Orlando Magic in 1995 where the Bulls star was seen in jersey no. 45.

The Magic’s shooting guard Nick Anderson taunted MJ regarding his change of jersey. Anderson commented, “Number 45 ain’t what 23 used to be” as Jordan was struggling to play like he used to after the return from his baseball venture.

Usually, such taunts provoked Jordan resulting in the opponents’ loss, but this was not the case in this game. Although the Bulls lost the first game, they came back stronger in the second game with Jordan making a return in his iconic jersey no. 23 which resulted in the NBA imposing a $100,000 fine on the Bulls.

With an outstanding performance from their star players the Bulls won the game by 104-94 but thanks to Shaquille O’Neal and Horace Grant’s exceptional display, the Magic won the series by 4-2.

The Bulls might have lost their opportunity that season but the following three seasons saw them dominating with Jordan in jersey no. 23 that started the second “three-peat” sequence till 1998.

Why Michael Jordan chose to wear 45 after returning to Bulls?

Now the glaring question of why one of the game’s greatest dunkers decided to wear 45. Justifying his reason for changing the jersey number, Jordan said, “I didn’t want to wear 23 because I knew my father wasn’t there to watch me, and I felt it was a new beginning and 45 was my first number when I was playing in high school.”

In his younger days at Laney High School, Michael Jordan wore jersey no. 45. Jordan’s father passed away in 1993 and his re-joining was like a new start, so he wanted to go back to where it all started.

Anderson’s taunt made Jordan come back to his former number and he never changed it again. In his final game at the United Center in Chicago, the legend was shown respect with a four-minute standing ovation. His jersey no. 23 was eventually retired by both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.

Shalini Ray

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Shalini is a passionate NBA follower who got hooked to the game thanks to Stephen Curry's sharpshooting show. While indulging in the sport of basketball solely within the confines of the school court, she keeps herself as close as possible to the game through all the latest happenings in the world of NBA.


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