NBA Un-Retirements: The Hidden Stories of Athletes’ Return to the Court

Return of the Legends

Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been several remarkable stories of athletes who came out of retirement to grace the basketball court once again. These un-retirements not only shocked fans but also showcased the enduring passion and love for the game that these players possess.

The Comeback Trail

One of the most notable un-retirements in NBA history was the return of Michael Jordan in 1995. After a brief stint in minor league baseball, Jordan shocked the world by announcing his return to the Chicago Bulls. His comeback was met with widespread excitement and anticipation, as fans eagerly awaited his return to dominance on the court.

Another remarkable comeback occurred in 2007 when Reggie Miller, known for his sharpshooting abilities, decided to come out of retirement and rejoin the Indiana Pacers. Miller’s return brought a renewed energy to the team and reminded fans of his incredible skills from beyond the arc.

Unfinished Business

For some athletes, the decision to un-retire is driven by a desire to accomplish unfinished business. This was the case for Magic Johnson, who retired in 1991 after being diagnosed with HIV. In 1996, Johnson made a stunning comeback, not only to prove his resilience but also to raise awareness about the disease. His return to the Los Angeles Lakers was met with admiration and inspired countless individuals around the world.

Similarly, in 2008, the legendary big man, Shaquille O’Neal, returned to the NBA following a brief retirement. O’Neal’s motivation was clear – he wanted to add another championship ring to his collection. His decision to un-retire and join the Boston Celtics showcased his relentless pursuit of success.

The Ageless Wonders

Some un-retirements are driven by the desire to prove that age is just a number. In 2012, the ageless wonder, Jason Kidd, decided to return to the NBA as a player for the New York Knicks. Kidd’s return not only amazed fans but also showcased his incredible basketball IQ and leadership skills.

Another example of defying age was the return of Vince Carter in 2012. After a successful career spanning two decades, Carter decided to come out of retirement to play for the Dallas Mavericks. His return was met with admiration as fans marveled at his ability to still perform at a high level.

A Last Hurrah

For some athletes, un-retiring is a way to bid farewell to the game they love. In 2016, Kobe Bryant announced his return to the NBA for one final season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant’s un-retirement was an emotional moment for fans worldwide as they got to witness the Black Mamba’s greatness for one last time.

Similarly, in 2020, the basketball world was stunned when the legendary Dirk Nowitzki decided to un-retire and join the Dallas Mavericks for a farewell season. Nowitzki’s return allowed fans to celebrate his illustrious career and pay tribute to one of the greatest power forwards of all time.



The NBA has witnessed numerous un-retirements that have captivated fans and left a lasting impact on the sport. These stories of athletes defying expectations, pursuing unfinished dreams, and bidding farewell to the game they love, remind us of the incredible resilience and passion that exists within the world of basketball.

Rate this post