2001 - The Year in Sports 2001 - The Year in Sports


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Second Coming
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There's a certain appeal to Michael Jordan's comeback attempt that was missing the last time he returned to the game after calling it quits. At age 38, he's not coming back to beat up on the NBA's second tier (i.e., every team but the Bulls). He's not doing it for the money (he's donating his $1 million salary to the familes of the victims of Sept. 11), fame (he's Jordan!) or lack of alternative employ (he has a clothing line and a restaurant, not to mention that he's dabbled in a basketball and a hockey team.) Lord knows he's not doing it for the ring: Given that the Washington Wizards lost 63 games a year ago and boast Rip Hamilton as their next best player, Jordan's tally for the moment seems safe at six. We can see through his supremely polished, thoroughly uninformative and obviously orchestrated press conferences that Jordan has come back because he, like the kid in us all, misses playing. The once rare Air (his private security staff, trainer and p.r. guy notwithstanding) has come down to earth a bit, not just literally, as his vaunted hops have become skips, but spiritually, as he seeks, midlife-crisis-like, to defy his cranky knees and recapture his youth. It's almost touchingly mortal. He remains, however, an All-Star-caliber player, defending as smartly as ever and, after a three-year hiatus as a suit in Washington's front office, still managing to almost always be the best player on the court. As Jordan pal Charles Barkley says, the Wizards are now just three players away: Wilt, Kareem and Magic.

--Jamal Greene

  • He's Back Again
  • Life of Reilly: I Don't Hate to Say, "I Told You So"
  • Frank Deford: Mr. Wizards' World
  • Video Box: Michael Jordan isn't afraid of the challenges ahead
  • Photographs by Bob Rosato (2), Al Tielemans