|Thursday, September 26
Updated: September 27, 11:13 PM ET
Jordan to play another season with Wizards
WASHINGTON -- Michael Jordan said he feels strong, so he's coming back.
Any more questions? Stay tuned.
Satisfied that his knees can take the pounding, Jordan confirmed Thursday that he'll play another season for the Washington Wizards. His one-page fax left everything else a mystery, including whether he indeed will be content as a backup.
"My love for the game of basketball continues to drive my decision,'' the statement said. "Physically I am feeling very strong, and feel that the steps I took in the offseason have allowed me to return to the game in great condition.''
Jordan won't answer questions until Monday, when the Wizards hold media day in Washington as a prelude to the start of training camp the following day in Wilmington, N.C.
Coach Doug Collins has said he plans to use Jordan as a sixth man at shooting guard, and that he doesn't want to use Jordan at small forward because of the physical demands.
With Jordan, however, such plans are never a certainty. Last season, whenever Collins, trainers or even Jordan himself tried to limit his playing time, his competitiveness would get the better of him. He exceeded his projected minutes almost every night.
Jordan will turn 40 in February, though, and the Wizards have added some talent since the end of last season. They acquired point guard Larry Hughes, shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse and small forward Bryon Russell to start on the perimeter.
"No decisions have been made as to my exact role on the team,'' Jordan said in the statement. "I expect that Coach Collins will make those assessments next week in training camp.''
The statement also did not address whether this season would be Jordan's last, although he had previously said he would not play beyond the two-year contract he signed with the Wizards last year.
Jordan and the Wizards must also again deal with his awkward dual role within the organization. He joined the team as president of basketball operations in January 1999. He still ran the team -- without the title -- after coming back as a player, and that sometimes caused strained relations in the locker room as he tried to be a teammate to players he signed or drafted.
Jordan's announcement lacked the drama and magnitude of a year ago, when he ended a 3½-year retirement by resigning the front office position to resume his playing career.
At the time, Jordan had worked so hard getting back in shape that his knees weren't ready for the rigors of a full NBA season. He played 60 of 82 games, starting 53, and tried to hide the pain and discomfort he felt in both knees. His right knee had to be drained of fluid several times, and he had surgery on the knee in February.
A month later, Jordan said he planned to play the 2002-03 season, but he set the stage for some mild summer suspense by adding he wouldn't play if he felt he'd have the same knee problems.
Meanwhile, the Wizards marketed season tickets as if Jordan would be playing again. Jordan's summer routine was less strenuous than last year's, but players who worked out with him said he looked as if he were getting ready to play another season.
Earlier this month, Jordan was fitted with a shoe insert to help relieve a new pain he felt on the outside of his right knee.
Jordan led the Wizards in scoring (22.9), assists (5.2) and steals (1.4) last season, but he also led them in turnovers (2.7), and his shooting percentage (41.6) was nearly 9 percentage points off his career average.
The Jordan of old resurfaced occasionally, such as when he scored 51 and 45 points in consecutive games in late December. But he also had five games in which he failed to score in double digits, something that had only happened once in 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls.
In his final game last season, he scored a career-low 2 points in 12 minutes in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.