Michael Jordan stunned the world with two simple words 25 years ago.

In an era before innovative social media announcements were the norm, Jordan released a statement through his management company "in response to questions about his future career plans" on March 18, 1995.

His response of "I'm back" signalled the return to basketball of one of the all-time greats.

Here, to mark the anniversary of that press release being issued, we look at Jordan and other greats who performed retirement U-turns.

 

MICHAEL JORDAN

Whether you are an ardent NBA fan or have simply seen Space Jam, you know the story. Chicago Bulls star Jordan retired in 1993 after his team three-peated and shortly after his father's death, stating that "the desire is just not there any more".

For the next year, Jordan turned to baseball as a minor league player as he pursued a dream his father had of his son making it in the MLB. Then, amid rumours he was heading back to the NBA, came that Jordan utterance: "I'm back". 

The Bulls, led by perhaps the greatest ever, would win three successive championships again between 1996 and 1998 at which point Jordan retired once more. He then came back for a two-year stint with the Washington Wizards before finally calling it a day once and for all in 2003.

 

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER

Seven-time Formula One champion Schumacher was 37 when he announced the 2006 season - when he was pipped to the title by Fernando Alonso - would be his last.

However, he remained around F1 as an advisor for Ferrari and returned for Mercedes to race in 2010 saying: "I have the energy back."

He would appear on the podium just once across three seasons, though, and he retired again in 2012, a year before he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident.

 

KIM CLIJSTERS

A former world number one and the 2005 US Open champion, Clijsters retired at the age of 23 due to a series of punishing injuries.

Clijsters got married and gave birth in her time away from sport, and then after appearing in an exhibition match held at Wimbledon in 2009, the Belgian returned to the WTA Tour. In just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open, becoming the first unseeded woman to win the tournament in the Open era and the first mother to win a grand slam since 1980.

She triumphed at Flushing Meadows again in 2010 and won the Australian Open in 2011, recently returning to tennis for a third time after a seven-year hiatus.

LANCE ARMSTRONG

American Armstrong retired as a seven-time Tour de France champion in 2005. But the story, of course, didn't end there.

Dogged by doping allegations during his career, Armstrong faced questions again when he returned, aged 37, in 2009 and finished third in that year's Tour.

Armstrong retired once more in 2011 while he was the subject of a federal investigation into doping allegations. Another probe from the United States Anti-Doping Agency led to charges which resulted in Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour titles in 2012, with the cyclist publicly coming clean on his doping the following year.

 

GEORGE FOREMAN

There was a full decade between Foreman's 47th and 48th fights.

He lost on points to Jimmy Young in 1977, falling ill in the dressing room after the bout and suffering what he said was a near-death experience, leading him to find God.

A born-again Christian, Foreman returned at 38. Despite defeats to Evander Holyfield and Tommy Morrison in title bouts, Foreman would become heavyweight champion of the world again in 1994 - at the grand old age of 45 - by stopping Michael Moorer.

BRETT FAVRE

Long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Favre, the king of indecision, bowed out from the NFL in March 2008, passing the baton to a certain Aaron Rodgers. However, he had a change of heart four months later. The Packers, who wanted to move on with Rodgers, traded Favre to the New York Jets.

After one season with Gang Green, Favre retired again. And then he performed another U-turn, paving the way for him to join the Minnesota Vikings, one of Green Bay's arch-rivals.

He enjoyed by far the best year of his career with the Vikings in terms of quarterback rating (107.2) but Minnesota lost the NFC Championship Game. More indecision followed after that, though 2010 would prove to be the final year of a Hall of Fame career.

Zion Williamson was amazed to learn his latest rookie achievements have included matching the great Michael Jordan.

The number one overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has sparkled since his belated debut last month following arthroscopic knee surgery.

And Williamson's 24 points in a 116-104 success against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday lifted his resurgent New Orleans Pelicans to ninth in the Western Conference, just two games shy of the playoff line.

It was the 19-year-old's individual exploits that garnered most attention, however, as Williamson became the first teenager ever to post 20-plus points in 10 straight games.

Earlier in his dominant run, Williamson had four consecutive games with at least 25 points while shooting at least 57 per cent from the field. Jordan was the last rookie to achieve this feat.

The former Duke sensation did not believe team-mate Jahlil Okafor when initially told of the statistic and turned to Pelicans security officer Chico Robinson for confirmation.

"Chico, my name's next to Michael Jordan?" Williamson asked. "Wow, Jahlil was for real.

"I mean, it's dope. I can't even lie. [He was] one of my favourite players growing up. I said in some interview, my mom told me to study film of him, so to be in that category, it means a lot."

Still, Williamson insists his focus is on delivering success for New Orleans, with their playoff bid now very much alive.

"I think the world and the media is more happy for me than myself," he said. "Honestly, I don't even think much of it if I'm being honest.

"I just want to get the win. You know, my stepdad taught me growing up: if the team has success then the individual things will follow. I guess it's just one of those things."

Zion Williamson dunked so hard during the NBA Rising Stars Challenge that he broke the backboard but jokingly suggested it may not have been his fault.

The rim was left askew after the New Orleans Pelicans rookie threw down a pass from Trae Young late in the second quarter of Team USA's 151-127 defeat of Team World at the United Center on Friday.

Arena staff at the venue for this year's All-Star festivities had to re-align everything during half-time, when Williamson discovered what had happened from team-mates.

Asked if he realised what he had done, Williamson said: "Not at all. I went into half-time and my team-mates started telling me about it.

"I don't know which dunk it was on, but I don't think it was me!"

The first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and Ja Morant, who played together for AAU team the South Carolina Hornets in 2014, caught the eye with some sensational plays.

Morant produced a through-the-legs alley-oop pass for a Williamson slam, but it was a different sequence that caused the Pelicans star to reflect on how far he and his former team-mate have come.

Asked for his favourite moment from the game, Williamson responded: "When Ja threw me the lob from half court. Reminisced on that, back to ninth grade.

"It was crazy honestly because after I caught it and we got a timeout or subbed out, I was thinking about our Hornets days and never in a million years would I have thought would we have been in this game or be in the situations we're in, so it would've been that moment."

Prior to taking to the floor, Williamson met Barack Obama at an NBA Cares event in Chicago and explained why he developed a newfound appreciation for the former United States president.

"First off he's a cool dude man, it's Obama, c'mon," said Williamson. "I gained so much more respect for him just by him saying that [he kept up with my games].

"I was like you probably have one of the most busy schedules and you're able to keep up with a rookie, superstars, college people, even high school people, and tell them their stats, what they've been doing good, what they can work on.

"When he told me that I just gained so much more respect for him."

Williamson was not born until after Michael Jordan had led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, but he still has a great respect for the 14-time All-Star's exploits.

"It was my mom that led me to watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls. I asked her when I first started playing who should I go watch and she told me Jordan, [Larry] Bird and Magic [Johnson]," he said.

"I think I started with Magic, I was like man he can pass the ball. Bird, he can shoot and is an all-around player but when I got to Jordan she told me to watch full games, not highlights.

"I watched full games and as a kid the stuff he was doing was incredible to watch. Getting a steal, saving it and then doing a backwards layup or floating through the lane through three people, dunking it.

"So as a kid that really caught my attention and from then I just watched every full game Michael Jordan clip I could find."

Michael Jordan has paid tribute to "little brother" Kobe Bryant after his fellow NBA legend died in a helicopter crash.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people on board a helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, a city in California, on Sunday.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed Bryant and Gianna, who also played basketball, died in the incident after the news was initially reported by American outlet TMZ.

Bryant, who spent his whole NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, will go down in history as a great of the game.

Jordan said in a statement released through his manager that Bryant was like family to him.

"I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing," Jordan said.

"We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.

"He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.

"Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply - and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball.

"Yvette [Jordan's wife] joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa [Bryant's wife], the Lakers organisation and basketball fans around the world."

LeBron James was honoured to again be linked with another NBA great after passing Michael Jordan on the all-time list of field goals made in the Los Angeles Lakers' victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Four-time MVP James surpassed Chicago Bulls legend Jordan's 12,192 field goals as the Lakers defeated the Mavs 129-114 in the absence of Anthony Davis for their seventh straight win.

Only Wilt Chamberlain (12,681), Karl Malone (13,528) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15,837) remain ahead of the former Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat star.

James was proud to be mentioned alongside such esteemed company amid the gruelling regular season.

"When you're on a journey and you're in a marathon, to be able to have feats along the way is pretty special," said James, who had a double-double of 35 points and 16 rebounds to go with seven assists.

"Any time I'm linked with the greats, tonight being MJ himself, that's special.

"Hopefully I continue to make the greats proud, live on that legacy and continue to make my family and my fans proud as well."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James: "He's just special. There's not enough adjectives, really, to describe LeBron James.

"He's a guy that's going to be setting milestones or breaking records every few games, seemingly, probably, for the rest of his career. It's pretty awesome."

Luka Doncic insisted he could not be compared to "one of a kind" Michael Jordan despite breaking one of the NBA great's records on Sunday.

The MVP candidate had 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists as the Dallas Mavericks slipped to a narrow defeat to the Sacramento Kings.

In doing so, Doncic enjoyed a 19th straight game with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists - the best such streak of any player since the ABA-NBA merger.

The previous benchmark belonged to Jordan, who had a run of 18 20-5-5 performances in March 1989, but Doncic is not ready to see his name put alongside the six-time champion.

"There are a lot of stats going on," Doncic told reporters. "I think it's a little bit too much [about] stats.

"You can't compare anybody to Michael Jordan. He's one of a kind. Those are just stats."

Despite his personal achievement by the game's end, Doncic was not happy with his first-half performance as Dallas trailed by 20 points after two quarters.

"Our first half was maybe the worst of the season - starting with me," the 20-year-old said. "There was no energy. We came back in the second half doing much better stuff."

Eden Hazard is the Michael Jordan of football as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez tipped the Real Madrid star to win the Ballon d'Or.

Hazard – regarded as one of the best players in the world – swapped Premier League outfit Chelsea for LaLiga powerhouse Madrid in a blockbuster transfer prior to the start of the season.

The Belgium international has showed flashes of his brilliance, earning praise for his performances prior to suffering a small ankle fracture.

Asked about Hazard, Martinez likened the Red Devils captain to Chicago Bulls great and NBA Hall of Famer Jordan.

"I see Hazard winning the Ballon d'Or," Martinez told Cadena Ser program El Larguero. "He has the role of being a Ballon d'Or winner.

"What he has done is the level of the Ballon d'Or and he is always eligible for the prize.

"He has done it at Chelsea, in France. It is difficult for a foreigner to be at the reference of a project that works to win the league.

"He is a last-pass player, a Michael Jordan. Hazard is the Michael Jordan of football."

Hazard – who has scored once this season – will miss El Clasico against Barcelona on December 18 due to a small fracture in his ankle.

The Madrid forward was forced off in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain last month.

"It's more the process of the injury," Martinez said on Thursday. "In the game against PSG, he had a setback and now we've discovered that he will spend a bit more time out than expected.

"There's nothing to worry about. You want a player like Eden to be 100 per cent, and now he'd established himself in the team and he was playing well.

"He's in very good physical condition and he'll be back very soon. You don't want to lose players of his level, but a team always has to deal with injuries, suspensions... Real Madrid are well prepared for this."

Giannis Antetokounmpo was pleased with his decisiveness in a 50-point display on Monday that saw the NBA's reigning MVP emulate numbers last produced by Michael Jordan.

The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Utah Jazz 122-118 to win an eighth straight game, improving to 14-3 as Antetokounmpo produced the second 50-point game of his career.

Antetokounmpo, who now has 17 successive double-doubles, also had 14 rebounds and six assists while not turning the ball over once.

The last player to score at least 50 points, have 10-plus rebounds, at least five assists and zero turnovers was five-time MVP Jordan 30 years ago.

"It's a great compliment being next to a guy like Michael Jordan," Antetokounmpo told reporters.

"Obviously, one of the best players to ever play the game. But what I care about is that I was decisive.

"When you're decisive, you don't turn the ball over.

"I was able to get better, find my angles, try to be low and not try to play as much upright as I've been playing all season and just make the right play.

"It's a great compliment to be there, but all I care about is being better and helping my team win."

Kemba Walker was "really emotional" after the reception he received on his return to Charlotte as the Boston Celtics extended their winning streak against the Hornets.

Playing in Charlotte for the first time since he left in the close season, Walker was given a warm reception from the crowd and was choked up when the team displayed a tribute video.

The three-time All-Star was below his best, scoring just 14 points, but the Celtics claimed a 108-87 victory to record their sixth straight win.

"It was special," Walker told reporters.

"Just to be back here, the amount of love I've been getting throughout this day, leading up to this day, the video just topped it off.

"It made me really emotional, I was trying to hold it in, but I couldn't, I knew I wasn't going to be able to.

"It was amazing, just a great feeling to know that they still have love for me even though I left. To be back and to get the reception I got was really cool."

Walker denied his below-par display had anything to do with the emotion of the night, adding: "I was just off, that's it. It's a part of the game.

"I just missed shots. I don't think the way I played had anything to do with the emotion or anything like that.

"My main focus was just to get a win and help in any way possible."

The 29-year-old revealed he did not catch up with Hornets owner Michael Jordan during his return, but said he remained close to the five-time MVP having spoken to him recently.

"MJ's always going to be a special guy in my life," Walker said.

"He's one of the reasons why I am who I am today. He gave me an opportunity to flourish as a basketball player, to grow as a man in this community.

"MJ's definitely going to have a special place in my heart, for sure."

Kawhi Leonard played down being compared to Michael Jordan by Doc Rivers after inspiring the Los Angeles Clippers to a 105-94 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Rivers stated during the play-offs last season that Leonard was "the most like Jordan that we've seen", a compliment that cost him $50,000 for violating the NBA's anti-tampering policy.

The Clippers coach was asked about that statement again at Staples Center on Sunday and replied: "I said there's no body type more like Michael Jordan's than Kawhi, and I actually said because of his hands and his length.

"And I did say part of his game, his in-between game."

Leonard then led the Clippers with 30 points - 18 scored in the final quarter - in a defeat of the Jazz before being quizzed about Rivers' comments.

"Just to be able to get recognised for my talents and where I came a long way to where I am now and just showing my hard work is paying off," said the small forward.

Leonard said taking aggressive approach and not hiding was the key to his final-quarter exploits.

"If you are able to make shots and lead your team to a victory I think it's great. With me it's just about taking advantage of the moment and not shying away." he said.

"Just keep going to your spots and shooting and keep being aggressive for the team.

"That's what I take my pride in, you are not going to make every shot that you shoot to win a game, or every shot in the fourth quarter, so to me it's about keep being aggressive and having fun and see what happens with the results."

Michael Jordan does not yet believe Stephen Curry has had the career to be considered a Hall of Fame player.

Several years ago Jordan said he would pick Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and James Worthy to play alongside him as an unbeatable team in any pickup game.

He was asked if he would stick with that selection in a wide-ranging interview with Craig Melvin on "Today". Jordan insisted he would not change those picks — not even for Curry.  

"I'm going in the trenches. I played against and with all these guys," Jordan said. "I'm going with who I know. Every single night, their responsibility to go out there and represent greatness, every single night." 

Melvin asked: "So Steph Curry shouldn't be offended when he watches this?"

"I hope not. He's still a great player. Not a Hall of Famer yet, though," Jordan said with a smile. "He's not."

Golden State Warriors superstar Curry, 31, is a two-time MVP and a three-time NBA champion.

He has averaged 23.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in his 10-year career.

Jordan, now 56, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 after he earned six championships, six NBA Finals MVPs and five league MVPs.

He also made 14 All-Star appearances in his 15-year career. The Chicago Bulls took Jordan with the third overall pick in 1984, and he went on to play 13 seasons over two stints before spending two years with the Washington Wizards. 

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