'The Last Dance': Michael Jordan Explains Why He Changed Jersey Number From 45 Back to 23 After First Retirement

The seventh and eighth episodes of The Last Dance aired on Sunday night and they were all about Michael Jordan's retirement and subsequent return to the NBA. He first left the game in 1993 and spent time playing baseball. Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls in 1995 and wore the No. 45 jersey instead of his famous No. 23. He continued to wear No. 45 for the rest of the regular season and even in the first round of the playoffs against the Charlotte Hornets. However, when Bulls took on the Orlando Magic, Jordan went back to No. 23 in Game 2.

"I just felt like 45 wasn't natural," Jordan said on The Last Dance when talking about the jersey switch. "I wanted to go back with the feeling I had with 23." In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Magic, the Bulls lost and Jordan played a big role, committing two turnovers in the final minute of the game. Horace Grant who played for the Bulls but was with the Magic at the time, said teammate, Nick Anderson told him "45 isn't 23." The jersey change didn't help the Bulls win the series, but the team did win the next three NBA titles. During the offseason in 1995, Jordan got his body back into shape, helping lead the Bulls to win 72 of their 82 games the following year.

"After the season, usually there's a time period where Michael takes some time off," Jordan's long time personal trainer Tim Grover said on The Last Dance. "The night they lost to Orlando, I said 'Michael I'm about to get out of here, let me know when you want me to see you.' He goes, 'I'll see you tomorrow.' Michael had an obligation to himself, the fans, his teammates, the organization, his family, everybody. He said if you're going to sit down and take three hours out of your day to watch me on TV, I have an obligation to give you my best all the time."

Jordan wearing No. 45 was an odd look considering he wore No. 23 at the start of his NBA career in 1985. However, he had a good reason for the change. "I didn't want to go to No. 23 because I knew my father wasn't there to watch me, and I felt it was a new beginning," Jordan said. "And 45 was my first number when I played in high school."