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11 May, 2020 12:07

'I know he's watching': Sobbing Michael Jordan COLLAPSED off court after first NBA win without murdered dad James in 1996 (VIDEO)

'I know he's watching': Sobbing Michael Jordan COLLAPSED off court after first NBA win without murdered dad James in 1996 (VIDEO)

An inconsolable Michael Jordan slumped to the floor after winning his first NBA championship with Chicago Bulls almost three years after the murder of his father, admitting he had been overwhelmed by the emotional turmoil he felt.

Jordan scored 22 points as a remarkable Bulls season ended with a 4-2 series win over Seattle SuperSonics on Father's Day in the US in 1996, sending the NBA's Most Valuable Player and top scorer to the floor in tears as he struggled to comprehend winning the title without his influential father, James, being present.

Two 18-year-old men robbed and shot Jordan's father when they stole a car the star had bought for him while he was taking a break on the side of a road before dumping his body in a swamp in July 1993.

"I know he's watching," said a visibly shaky Jordan after the 87-75 finale that cemented his triumphant return after more than a season outside the sport following the tragedy. "This is for daddy – I'm very happy for him."

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Still cradling the match ball, a shattered Jordan had collapsed to the floor next to a table immediately after the game, howling into the carpet as a Bulls member of staff knelt next to him to hold a towel over his shoulders.

Collecting himself to return to court to lift the trophy and thank the vital contributions of teammates including Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen, Jordan admitted: “I just had a lot to think about and maybe my mind wasn’t geared [correctly].

"But deep down inside it was geared to what was most important to me, with my family and with my father not being here to see this. I’m just happy that the team kind of pulled me through it.”

“This was probably the hardest time for me to play the game of basketball. I had a lot of things on my mind. I had the good fortune of a team that came in and played extremely well."

Despite rumors that he had been suspended for reported gambling problems, Jordan admitted that his retirement after helping his team to a third consecutive title in 1993 was a result of his father's death.

His number 23 shirt was symbolically retired by Bulls as he tried to follow his father's wishes by pursuing a move to baseball, starting with a Minor League Baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox in 1994.

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Bulls fans were ecstatic when he returned in March 1994 and helped the team recover from a predictably less successful season by being instrumental in the glorious campaign that followed.

"I’m happy for the city of Chicago," said the talismanic icon, returning in his old shirt number.

"I’m sorry I was gone for 18 months, but I’m back now.

“I can’t even put it in words – it’s been a long road. I had a lot of support from my teammates and my family."

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Fans, including Los Angeles Laker forward LeBron James, watched the deeply emotional episode on hit series "The Last Dance," which follows the story of Jordan and the Bulls.

"That moment of MJ on the floor crying was really hard to watch," said one, while another responded: "I cried then and I'm crying now. All these years later, I felt that. RIP James Jordan."

Jordan went on to win three straight NBA titles with the team again between 1996 and 1998, adding to a glittering career that made him arguably the greatest NBA player of all time.

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