As Michael Jordan celebrates the 15-year anniversary of his retirement from baseball, SI looks back at some of the most famous two-sport athletes, beginning with His Airness, who was already considered one of the NBA's all-time greats when he hung up his high tops in favor of spikes prior to the 1992-93 season. Unfortunately, his baseball career never panned out. After 18 months and a .202 career batting average, Jordan retired from baseball and returned to the Bulls, where he won three more championships.
The most famous two-sport athlete of them all, Bo Jackson played running back for the Raiders and patrolled left field for the Royals, White Sox and Angels. Besides winning the Heisman, Jackson was the first athlete to be an all-star in two major sports. Unfortunately, a serious hip injury ended his NFL career, and despite a return to baseball on an artificial hip, he never was the same. Jackson retired in 1994 and currently runs the Bo Jackson Elite Sports Complex in suburban Chicago.
Widely considered the greatest athlete of all time, Thorpe won Olympic gold in the pentathlon and decathlon, played professional baseball and basketball, but is best known for his work on the football field with the Canton Bulldogs. He led the squad to three championships and served as the first president of what is now the National Football League.
With talent like Deion's, it is no mystery why he had such a dilemma. Sanders is the only athlete to win the Super Bowl and play in a World Series and the only player in professional sports history to hit a home run and score a touchdown ... all in the same week. Sanders ultimately chose football and played 14 seasons, winning two Super Bowls and earning a spot on the Pro Bowl team nine times.
While at Syracuse, Brown was a two-time All-American in lacrosse. However, he is best known for his performance on the football field. In nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns, the Georgia native set the record for single-season and career rushing yardage, as well as most rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns and all-purpose yards. Brown has been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame and the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
The only female to make the list, Zaharias won gold in the javelin, 80-meter hurdles and high jump at the 1932 Olympics. From there, she went onto become the greatest female golfer of all time, winning five majors before illness cut her career short. But that's not all. Zaharias was also a baseball nut and such a natural hitter that she earned the nickname "Babe," a tribute to the famous Yankee slugger.
Owens' exploits -- both on and off the football field -- have been well documented. However, few fans realize that T.O. was not only a member of Tennessee-Chattanooga's basketball squad, but also played briefly for the minor-league Adirondack Wildcats of the USBL during the 2002 NFL offseason. The stint wasn't that impressive and Owens soon returned to the gridiron.
Despite winning the Heisman Trophy in 1993, Ward chose basketball and was selected by the Knicks with the No. 26 pick of the draft. He played sparingly during his rookie year, but proved to be a dependable backup point guard. In 11 seasons, Ward averaged six points and four assists per game.
After capping a successful college career at Brigham Young, where he won the Wooden Award for the nation's most outstanding player, Ainge chose baseball and played four mediocre seasons with the Blue Jays. He changed course in 1981, and was drafted by the Celtics, where he played nine seasons and won two championships. He is currently the general manager of the C's.
After a standout career at the University of Richmond, Jordan played minor league baseball in the Cardinals farm system while doubling as a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons. After three years in Atlanta, Jordan gave up football to concentrate on baseball. In 15 MLB seasons with five squads, Jordan batted .282 with 181 home runs and 821 RBIs.
A star in track and football while at Tennessee, Gault made the 1980 Olympic team as a part of the 4 x 100 meter relay team, but didn't participate due to the U.S. boycott. He played 11 NFL seasons for the Bears and Raiders, winning a Super Bowl in Chicago in 1986. He is currently pursuing a career in acting.
Hayes won the 100 meters at the 1964 Olympics, the same year the Cowboys drafted him in the seventh round. He seamlessly made the transition from track to football, finishing his 11-year NFL career with 71 touchdown catches, a 20-yard average per reception, three Pro Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, seven years after his death.
Before his groundbreaking, Hall of Fame career with the Dodgers, Robinson became the first to letter in four sports at UCLA. He actually struggled as a shortstop at UCLA, but was a standout as a running back, point guard and long jumper.
Roy Jones Jr.
Along with being a world-class boxer, Roy Jones Jr. has professional basketball on his résumé. In fact, Jones pulled off an impressive doubleheader on June 15, 1996, when he played in a U.S. Basketball League game in the afternoon and beat Eric Lucas to defend his IBF super middleweight title that night.
The world's most recognizable extreme athlete excels in snowboarding and skateboarding, winning an Olympic gold medal in the former and collecting numerous X Games medals in both sports.