The GOAT returns.
March 18, 1995 will forever be remembered as the day Michael Jordan announced his return to basketball after a nearly 18-month hiatus. His return was anticipated but not certain, coming just eight days after he announced the end of his baseball career.
Jordan had won three titles and MVP awards. He had broken numerous records. His legacy as a historic, phenomenal basketball player was undeniable. But that didn’t mean fans were letting go of hope for a comeback.
The glory of Jordan’s return to basketball was supported by the style of the announcement, at a time when he didn’t have Twitter or Instagram at his disposal. Back then, it was a press release sent via fax, facilitated by David Falk, Jordan’s agent, and Alyson Sadofsky, the Director of Media Services for Falk Associates Management Enterprises.
Sadofsky remembers the press release she prepared for Jordan’s official departure from baseball. It was eight paragraphs, and she didn’t question whether there would be a follow-up release anytime soon.
“When I left work on Friday, March 17, I was given no reason to believe that the next day would be anything other than a regular Saturday,” she says.
On Saturday morning, Sadofsky came out of the shower to discover seven messages on her answering machine. All seven were from Falk.
“David wasn’t a yeller, but he pretty much yelled, ‘I need you to get to the office now,’ and that I needed to call him when I got there, and he’d give me further instructions,” remembers Sadofsky.
Sadofsky rushed to the office and called Falk, who asked her to send out a press release with the same intro she used for previous releases, altering the end to say “in response to questions about his future career plans.”
Falk had been reviewing a number of statements with Jordan at the athlete’s home in Chicago. He wanted Jordan to give him direction on what to relay to the media.
“What do you want me to say?” Falk prompted.
Jordan paused before responding, with unforgettable precision:
“David dictated the release to me: ‘I’m back,’” recalls Sadofsky. “I don’t remember if I asked any questions, made any remarks, or even what I was thinking in that moment. David told me that the release needed to go out IMMEDIATELY, as the story was breaking.”
It wasn’t just a matter of sending one fax to the entire world. “In those primitive days, faxes went out one at a time,” explains Sadofsky, “so I had to prioritize who would get the release first and go from there.”
She additionally made a cover sheet for each outlet — typed on a typewriter — with the name of the person it was going to, their fax number and her contact number. It was an arduous process.
“I started with the Associated Press office in New York, and I followed it with the Chicago newspapers,” says Sadofsky, who sent faxes one by one to additional outlets including all major national papers, sports broadcasters and writers for the league. “I took over two machines, so I could send the faxes two at a time,” Sadofsky says.
“The rest of the day was a blur,” she adds. “When the last of the faxes went through, I called David to let him know I was done. I put the original ‘I’m back’ statement in a folder on his assistant’s desk and went home.”
At the time, Sadofsky was simply focused on completing this familiar task with its unusual urgency. “I don’t remember feeling like a part of history. I obviously knew the magnitude of MJ’s comeback, and what it meant for the league, and as a basketball fan, I was really excited for it.
What I think about now is how different it was then. Today, David would have called or texted my cell, I would have tweeted the statement, and it would have been out, worldwide, within seconds. No drive to the office, no letterhead, no cover sheets, no weird fax noises. Just the famous words.”
The Air Jordan 10 Retro White/Black will be available 3/18 at 10am ET from Nike.com