Out of the eight episodes of The Last Dance that have aired on ESPN, Sunday night's may have been the most emotional. One of the most talked about instances in the latest two episodes of the docuseries is the sudden death of Michael Jordan's father, James R. Jordan. The incident happened in 1993 and Michael Jordan talked about his relationship with his father on The Last Dance.
"He was my rock. You know, we were very close. He constantly gave me advice," Michael Jordan said, as transcribed by Entertainment Tonight. "I remember, in ninth grade, I got suspended three times in one year, and my father pulled me aside that summer and said, 'Look, you don't look like you're heading in the right direction. You know, if you want to go about doing all this mischievous stuff, you can forget sports.' And that's all I needed to hear. From that point on, it was like tunnel vision and I never got in trouble from that point on."
James was murdered on July 23, 1993. He pulled off on the side of the road to take a nap and was shot to death while sleeping. The two attackers hid the body, stole the car and James' body wasn't discovered for another month. "You know, my mother was so strong," Jordan added. "The first thing she says, 'You know, you got to be thankful.' You know, and I started looking at the positive. One of the things that he always taught me is that you have to take a negative and turn it into a positive. So I started looking to the other side of it, and that helped me get through it."
A few months later, Jordan announced his retirement from basketball and decided to play baseball, which led to him signing a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. One of the last conversations Jordan had with his father was him playing baseball. "We were debating, me and him," Jordan said. "We were debating about me playing baseball. 'Dad, I want to go play baseball. I'm thinking about retiring, I want to go play baseball.' He was saying, 'Do it, do it.' 'Cause he got me started in baseball."
Jordan's baseball career came to an end in March 1995. He then returned to the NBA and led the Bulls to an NBA Championship the following year. It was the first title Jordan's father wasn't there to see, which led to Jordan getting very emotional in the locker room.