The 1994-95 season opened with the Chicago Bulls in a new arena,
Michael Jordan fires a jumper during his 55-point outburst
at Madison Square Garden.|
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.