Retiring has to be one of the toughest decisions a professional athlete will ever have to face, as it will mean giving up on the thing they’ve been doing their entire life, the thing that’s put the food on their table, that has give them meaning, purpose and recognition.
Either because of health, age, exhaustion or just because they’ve got nobody willing to take them on their team, whenever a player decides to retire, it represents a huge adjustment on their lifestyle, and it doesn’t end up well some of the times.
Several guys tend to get frustrated and fail to adapt to their new ways, and constantly end up missing the hardwood. Over the course of history, we’ve seen players that retired due to some circumstances but never wanted to give up on their careers.
Today, we’re going to let you know about 9 basketball players that made a comeback after deciding to retire.
9. Dave Cowens
Dave Cowens was the ultimate leader of the Boston Celtics and had already won a couple of rings and an MVP when he decided to retire in 1980. Nevertheless, watching a young Larry Legend at Boston motivated him to make a comeback in 1982, but the team almost immediately dealt him to the Milwaukee Bucks, where his production would dip significantly. Sadly, he could make just 40 appearances during his final campaign, as he would have to retire once again due to a knee injury.
8. Brandon Roy
Brandon Roy was one of the most gifted scorers in the league ever since he made his professional debut, winning the ROY during the 2006 season. Sadly for him, he was never able to shake off his constant knee injuries and he retired just after 6 seasons in the NBA out of pure frustration. He later tried to make a comeback during the 2012-13 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but his knee forced him to retire for good again after just 5 games.
7. Robert Reid
Robert Reid’s story is one of the most bizarre ones you’ll ever hear about, as the small forward decided to retire after just 5 seasons in the NBA to focus in religion. Nevertheless, he came back after one year during the 1983-84 campaign with the Houston Rockets, and he managed to have a pretty decent NBA stint that lasted all the way to 1981, although his post-retirement numbers took a huge downtrend.
6. George Mikan
Mikan was one of the game’s most dominant players during basketball’s early stages, leading the Minneapolis Lakers to 5 NBA Championships before deciding to retire for one season. Sadly for him, his numbers took a major dip when he made his comeback amidst the 1955-56 campaign, while his Lakers would fall short of the Championship at the end of the season, making him decide to retire once again.
5. Jonathan Bender
Jonathan Bender was yet another huge bust and “what if”, as he came to the league with high praise as the 5th overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft , but constant injuries and nagging pains stalled his development and he wound up being just a below the average player. After suffering a serious knee injury in 2006, he made a failed comeback in late 2009 with the New York Knicks, but couldn’t play beyond that season.
4. Sidney Moncrief
Sidney Moncrief shocked everybody when he decided to retire after just a decade in the Association, especially considering how much energy he put up on both ends of the floor on a nightly basis. The former Buck had won a couple of Defensive Player of the Years award before announcing his retirement in 1989, but came back a couple of years later to have a one year stint at Atlanta.
3. Richie Guerin
Guerin decided to retire at the end of the 1966-67 campaign, taking the head coach gig for the Atlanta Hawks for a couple of years. Nonetheless, he was kind of forced to make a comeback due to injuries amidst the 69-70 campaign, making 8 appearances as a coach-player. On a side note, he recorded a 31 point performance against the Lakers, but wound up retiring after the season to continue his coaching career for an extra couple of campaigns.
2. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson shocked the entire world when he stated that he would retire because he was HIV positive, something that to this day is still a matter of huge controversy. Retiring in 1992, he planned to make a comeback the next campaign, but his health condition prevented him from doing so. After a head coaching gig with the Lakers during the 1994 campaign, the greatest point guard in the history of the game would make a short comeback during the 1996 season.
1. Michael Jordan
And of course, you already knew this one. Michael Jordan retired not once, but twice, and he always came back stronger. His first retirement came after winning his first three-peat with the Bulls following his father’s passing to pursue a career in baseball. After coming back and winning 3 more Championships with Chicago, the GOAT would call it a day once again, just to make a comeback with the Washington Wizards after some time in the team’s front office, making questionable decisions at best, but proving that he was still the best player that had ever set foot on an NBA hardwood.