Michael Jordan's comeback is on, newspaper report says; announcement expected as early as today

Monday, September 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ For weeks, the question hasn't been whether Michael Jordan will return, but rather what it will be like when he does.

Jordan all but confirmed two weeks ago that he will play for the Washington Wizards this season, and Monday's Washington Post, citing a league source with knowledge of the situation, reported that he has erased any final twinge of uncertainty about ending his three-year retirement.

The team was to announce Jordan's return through a press release as early as Monday, the source told the Post.

Even after the comeback is official, though, other questions will remain _ including how much Jordan might play. At 38, Jordan last played an NBA game in June 1998. Over the last few months, he's had two cracked ribs, back spasms, knee tendinitis and hamstring problems, and that's just from pickup games against invited players.

Jordan has been very cagey about his comeback plans _ he even asked for pledges of secrecy from the players in his pickup games. And last spring, he said: ``If I had to answer today, I'm 99.9 percent sure I won't play again.''

But as the months went by the rhetoric changed. On Sept. 10, Jordan spoke following a pickup game in Chicago.

``I'm doing it for the love of the game,'' he said. ``Nothing else. For the love of the game.''

The next day, the Jordan saga was displaced from the front pages by the terrorist attacks, prompting him to shelve plans for a news conference to announce his comeback. His next chance to answer the ``why'' question comes Oct. 1, the team's pre-camp media day.