- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Washington Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Jordan indicated yesterday that the world soon will have its answer on his return to the NBA this season. The signs are starting to show that answer will be yes.
"The week of the 20th" was Jordan's answer when asked by The Washington Times when he would be ready to announce his decision. Although most signs point toward his return, Jordan yesterday indicated that he still had not completely made up his mind.
"I'm not going to commit myself to a decision right now," Jordan said.
Jordan confirmed that plans are in motion for a news conference in Washington to announce his intentions, likely within the next 10 days.
Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six championships and was named league MVP five times during his 13-year career, gave further indication to a group of writers camped outside Hoops the Gym yesterday in Chicago, where he has conducted workouts for the last month, that his comeback has been all but announced.
When pressed by the writers gathered outside the gym, Jordan smiled, then replied, "I'm doing it for the love of the game. Nothing else. For the love of the game," according to the Associated Press.
While never quite affirming his return, Jordan did imply it. He told AP "I want to play for years."
Jordan also said that, barring a flare up of the tendinitis in his right knee that has bothered him for much of the summer, a return to the league he dominated is close to a lock.
If Jordan does come back, the only hurdle left is his ownership claim in the Wizards estimated to be between 6 and 11 percent. NBA rules prohibit an owner from playing in the league. To that end, it has been confirmed that meetings concerning this matter have been ongoing between Jordan representatives and NBA commissioner David Stern. Stern has already gone on record that he would love to see Jordan return to the NBA as a player, something understandable considering the slumping attendance figures and television ratings the league has experienced since Jordan retired for the second time in 1998.
Jordan's return would benefit the Wizards in innumerable areas. Even at 38 Jordan would make the Wizards, winners of just 19 games last season, more respectable than they have been in years. The Wizards have reached the playoffs just once in the last 14 seasons.
"Winning isn't always championships," Jordan told AP. "What's wrong with helping kids find their way, teaching them the game."
Jordan's return also would increase attendance at MCI Center. The Wizards have sold close to 12,000 season tickets for the upcoming season, an improvement of more than 3,500 from last season and that's without a firm commitment from Jordan.
Speculation on Jordan's second return he retired from the Bulls in 1993 and gave baseball a try before coming back in 1995 first appeared in the spring. It blossomed over the summer when Charles Barkley, a close friend and soon-to-be fellow Hall of Famer, indicated he was working out to join Jordan as a member of the Wizards.
Barkley has since backed off any return and has encouraged Jordan to do the same, citing age and injuries as major roadblocks in his comeback effort.
Jordan, however, has made no pretense about his intentions to come back. Following a four-week break from working out because of a pair of broken ribs, Jordan resumed his intensive workouts sometimes going six hours a day to determine his readiness.
Last month Jordan had hoped to be joined by current superstars Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers, Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks at Hoops the Gym to gauge his preparedness against the league's elite young superstars.
Those players never came to Chicago. Instead, Jordan had to practice with lesser stars like Boston's Antoine Walker, former Wizard Juwan Howard and Dallas' Michael Finley.
At the conclusion of his workouts with the NBA players, Jordan rated himself a "7" on a scale from 1 to 10. However, yesterday Jordan upgraded his readiness to an "8," according to AP.

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