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David Stern fired back at rumor that he made Michael Jordan retire due to gambling

David Stern, Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, Bulls

Michael Jordan retired twice in his NBA career. The Chicago Bulls legend hung up his cleats for the first time in 1993 and for a second time in January of 1999. However, in 2001, the Hall of Famer came back and played two seasons for the Washington Wizards before hanging it up for good.

During the May 10 episodes of the popular 10-part ESPN documentary The Last Dance, Jordan’s first retirement and gambling problems are heavily discussed.

While Jordan cited the lack of desire to play the game of basketball and his father’s murder three months prior as the reasons for his retirement in the early 90s, a popular NBA theory has another explanation.

According to the theory, Jordan’s first retirement was essentially a suspension from then-league commissioner David Stern stemming from Jordan’s gambling problem. However, in the latest The Last Dance episodes, the late David Stern addressed the rumor.

“The urban legend that I sent [MJ] away because he was gambling…ridiculous. No basis in fact,” Stern said in the recent episode.

During that year off from the NBA, Michael Jordan went on to play minor league baseball with the Birmingham Barons — the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Jordan’s baseball career was short-lived though, as it was clear that his baseball skills did not match up to his greatness on the hardwood.

Jordan would go on to win three more championships in his final four seasons with the Bulls since returning from baseball.

As for Stern, the longtime NBA commissioner served in that position from 1984 until 2014 and passed away recently this January 2020 at the age of 77.