The 1994-95 season opened with the Chicago Bulls in a new arena, the United Center, but with Michael Jordan
as a memory. Scottie Pippen
was the team's star now, an All-Star starter and All-NBA First Team selection who led the league in steals (2.94 spg) and also ranked among the leaders in scoring (21.4 ppg, 12th), rebounding (8.1 rpg, 23rd) and assists (5.2 apg, 23rd). Toni Kukoc was inserted into the starting unit about 25 games into the season and averaged 15.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists for the year. Most nights Kukoc and Pippen formed a formidable duo.
Yet the Bulls became much stronger late in the year. Jordan, who had been toiling without much success as a minor league baseball player attempting, realized just how much he missed basketball. So on March 18, following months of speculation and amidst much fanfare, Jordan declared, "I'm back," rejoining the Bulls in what was certainly the most memorable return of a player in NBA history.
Although he was not quite the same player who had left the NBA in 1993, five games into his comeback Jordan shook off the rust and showed he truly was back. Traveling to New York to face the rival Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Jordan was unstoppable as he erupted for 55 points on March 29, 1995. And he capped off his brilliant performance by setting up Bill Wennington for a dunk that gave Chicago a last-second victory.
In 17 late regular-season games, Jordan averaged 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists, but it would be another year before Jordan would lead the Bulls back to the top of the NBA.
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