After months of keeping fans on edge, Michael Jordan finally announced his return to the NBA on Tuesday, Sept. 25. Returning after a three year hiatus, Jordan will suit up as the newest addition to the Washington Wizards.
The five-time league Most Valuable Player retired for a second time in 1999 after leading the Chicago Bulls to their sixth title of the decade. In a press conference on Oct. 1, Jordan discussed his last championship win. “Obviously, when I left the game, I left something on the floor.after we won the last title, I didn’t sit down, ready to quit the game.”
Jordan delayed his announcement, which he had intended to make on Monday, Sept. 24, due to negotiations with the video game manufacturer EA sports and the NBA. He had an existing five-year licensing agreement with EA sports, which used Jordan’s image in its video game (obviously as a Chicago Bull). The additional day was used to work out a financial settlement with the video game manufacturer, which resulted in EA surrendering its exclusive rights to Jordan.
Much controversy has surrounded the comeback of Jordan due to the fact that he has ownership of the team he intends to play for. However NBA rules require that he sell his ownership stake in the Wizards. “I am happy to welcome Michael Jordan, the player, back to the NBA,” said David Stern, NBA commissioner, “Although.I am sorry to lose him in the boardroom.”
People are looking for all sorts of reasons and different motivations for Jordan coming back, but obvious to many fans and league officials, it is for the love of the game. When asked about Jordan’s return, Wizards coach Doug Collins said “Michael’s not coming back for revenge, Michael’s coming back to play. He loves it.”
Jordan’s eagerness to continue playing will be displayed in the upcoming NBA season. Jordan, 38, will bear his renowned No. 23 jersey with the Wizards beginning with his regular-season debut on Oct. 30 in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. He has vowed to donate his first year $1 million salary to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Jordan has been in training for about six months. He rigorously worked himself into playing shape during the summer by holding several invitation-only camps of pickup games with other NBA players at a gym in Chicago. He occasionally worked out with the Wizards last season when he was president of basketball operations.
Suffering from back spasms, knee tendonitis and two cracked ribs during the summer, Jordan raised doubts whether his body could endure the rigors of an 82-game schedule. “The young dogs are going to chase me around. Well, I’m not going to bark too far away from them, either. I’m not running from nobody. If anything, it’ll be a great challenge,” Jordan said of his competing with the younger players he will have to face this season.
Though three years removed from the league, Jordan is enthusiastic about his coming back to the NBA. “I am returning as a player to the game I love.”