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Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan has been declared nothing less than the greatest basketball player of all time. In 1993, he made the very surprising announcement that he was retiring from the game. It was surprising because he was at his peak as a player, the recipient of copious individual and team honors, and in top physical condition. It was also surprising because he was leaving the basketball court to pursue a career in baseball.

Jordan intended to pay his dues, so he started at the bottom and signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, his performance on the baseball field was underwhelming, prompting his return to the Chicago Bulls in 1995. Despite his absence of a year and a half from basketball, he played as though he had never left, and in the 1995-1996 season he led the Bulls to a 72-10 record, the best in the history of the National Basketball Association.

Brian A. Westerholt | Getty Images