March 21: Jordan Rides the Bus (#21)

On this day in history in 1994: Michael Jordan was cut from the Chicago White Sox roster and sent to their minor league club. But that never could have happened if he didn't do what he did on October 6, 1993: announcing his retirement from the NBA. 

At the beginning of #DocuMarch, I told myself that ESPN's 30 for 30 series might need to be off limits due to it's popularity & everyone having seen nearly every episode. I wanted to do my best to stick to the lesser-known docs (which isn't always possible or interesting), but I couldn't resist considering the historical relevance of today: March 21, 1994 -- Jordan Rides the Bus

Michael Jordan walked away from pro basketball at the prime of his career.

After leading the Dream Team to an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and taking the Bulls to their third consecutive NBA championship the following year, Jordan was jolted by the murder of his father. In "Jordan Rides the Bus," Ron Shelton (former minor leaguer who brought his experiences to life in the classic movie "Bull Durham") revisits Jordan's short career in the minor leagues and explore the motivations that drove the world's most competitive athlete to play a new sport in the relative obscurity of Birmingham, Alabama, for a young manager named Terry Francona.

Mr. Jordan, playing against some of the toughest competition in the minor leagues, didn’t just hit .202. As a 31-year-old rookie with no professional experience, he drove in 51 runs, stole 30 bases and had 7 game-winning hits. Over the course of one season of 127 games, he became a legitimate baseball player.
— Mike Hale, New York Times

THOUGHTS

Since I was only six years old when Michael Jordan retired the first time from the NBA, there were so many questions I wanted answered. I was excited to see him play baseball (and obviously excited about Space Jam), but there was just so much about this story that I never knew. With no internet or Twitter, I just had to hope that I would eventually get to read about what happened in a magazine or newspaper. That never really happened... mostly because I didn't learn to read until I was 15, but that's besides the point. 

Jordan Rides the Bus just made me like Michael Jordan even more than I did before. Sure, he was probably a pompous jerk to some people because of his money & fame, but who wouldn't be? Seeing a young MJ awkwardly swing a bat was funny at first, but that quickly fades into admiration when you see how much he truly cared & wanted to succeed. It was also crazy to learn that Terry Francona was his minor league manager, and hear how positive he felt about Jordan's efforts. The other facts of this story were fascinating, too, like the story of the Birmingham real-estate agent who was tasked with finding the superstar a home in the small town, or how he denies paying for luxury buses for the team. It felt like I was finally closing all of those open cupboard doors in my brain about this story and finally seeing what really went down when Jordan decided to ride the bus. 

TL;DR

The real story behind why MJ retired from NBA and tried his best to satisfy his deceased father's dream to see him play baseball. 

5 of 5 Stars!

Onwards,
--Justin