retired nba players who staged a comeback sidney moncrief

4 NBA Players Who Retired and Staged a Successful Comeback

The times are miserable and chaotic for the New York Knicks.

As if the drought hasn’t entirely played out yet with five straight losing seasons, Richard Jefferson chose to retire instead of playing for the team.

Let that sink in first.

It was difficult enough for the Jim Dolan-owned team, which was the only franchise to offer him a job. What more hearing a 17-season, admittedly washed Jefferson outright refused millions of dollars in exchange for becoming a Knicks player?

At this point, though, we won’t know whether Jefferson will ever come back playing.

However, these NBA players knew that they have to make a comeback and proved their worth once more.

If you’ve meant to ask that question, yes, he can. He can come back at any stage of retirement. It is the right of any retired NBA player.

Can a player come back after retirement?

Comebacks are not equally successful, however, at least compared with these returning players. 

#4 Richie Guerin

Guerin was one of the most underrated NBA Hall of Famers nominees in 2013, but he deserved all the praise and recognition. 

For one, he scored 57 points in a historic game against Syracuse Nationals. It broke scoring records and the curse of eight losses straight against the Nationals.

Unfortunately for him, he played in the New York Knicks when it was yet to win its first NBA championship. 

Guerin retired after the 1966-67 season as a player before he jumped to Atlanta Hawks as a head coach. While there, he was forced a comeback because his players had injuries.

He was the New York hero of his time. When he first set foot in Madison Square Garden for the first time after being traded with the Hawks, Geurin got a five-minute standing ovation.

Yes, he was that great. 

#3 Sidney Moncrief

Hall of Famer Moncrief decided to retire after ten seasons with the NBA and while he was still in his prime. 

A Milwaukee Bucks legend, he was a Defensive Player of the Year awardee twice before he retired in 1989. Those two years were the first two years that the award existed. Some even argued that it was created for him.

Moncrief returned after a couple of years this time with Atlanta Hawks. 

Moncrief was the resident ‘veteran’ and part-time reserve, calling his time with the Hawks, specifically Moses Malone, Doc Rivers, and Dominique Wilkins the most rewarding year in the NBA.

He earned a roster spot, averaging 4.7 points in 15.2 minutes.

#2 Magic Johnson

Johnson retired in 1992 due to health reasons—he was diagnosed with HIV. He planned on playing for the next two seasons, but his health prevented his comeback.

In 1994, he became the Los Angeles Lakers head coach. He came back playing in 1996, displaying his all-around skills despite being one of the greatest point guards in NBA history.

Despite the controversies involving decreased playing time of other players when he entered the Lakers, he led the team to the playoffs. The team finished 53-29.

#1 Michael Jordan

Dubbed as the greatest comeback of all time, Jordan staged two comebacks, but the first one is the more successful one. 

He originally retired due to burnout and depression after his father’s death. Jordan focused on playing baseball to make his father’s dream come true.

He came back to play for the Chicago Bulls after a less than stellar performance with the Chicago White Sox’s. 

With Bulls, Jordan won more championships and MVP awards. 

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While at it, whose NBA player comeback are you waiting for? Please let us know.

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