Up in the air

Jordan to make comeback decision in mid-September

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2001

LONG GROVE, Ill. -- Michael Jordan, smoking a cigar, joking with the crowd and looking fit and trim, has a timetable for deciding whether he'll return to the NBA.

''Give me another month and a half. Middle of September,'' Jordan said after his round in the SBC Senior Open Pro-Am was shortened to 10 holes by rain.

Jordan, president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards, has been working out with his own team recently, still gauging if, at age 38, he would be able to return at a high level. Last month he cracked two ribs during a Chicago pickup game, slowing down his workouts.

Jordan was evasive Wednesday, answering one question as he headed to his car before leaving Kemper Lakes Golf Club to play in another golf outing.

On Tuesday, he told WBBM television he was still undecided about a comeback.

''I look forward to playing and hopefully I can get to that point where I can make that decision. But it's OK to have some doubt and it's OK to have some nervousness. I think that's part of competing,'' he said.

''I probably can't take off from the free throw line, but I couldn't take off from the free throw line in '95 when we won the championship.''

Jordan said the main opinion he will consider in making up his mind will be his own.

''I think everybody's tried to point me in one direction or the next. But I've been very honest with myself in saying I'm still evaluating, I'm looking for the signs, I'm looking for all the things I feel I could do when I was playing,'' he said.

''If you asked me today to make a decision, I would not play because I still have so many question marks about myself physically.''

NBA training camps don't open until October, so Jordan has plenty of time to decide. He also has to put a team together. Several times while on the course he talked on his cellular phone.

Wizards players who have practiced against him say he can still play. But can he do it at the NBA level night after night? Can Michael Jordan still be Michael Jordan?

''Everybody who is a Michael Jordan fan wants him at that level, if he competes,'' said veteran golfer Tom Kite, who was in Jordan's foursome. ''If can compete at a level we're used to seeing, it would be great.''

Jordan picked up his golf game with three pars and a birdie in the four holes before the rain. He played several shots with the lighted cigar in his mouth.

Kite said Jordan is a 7-handicap golfer who doesn't get to play as much as he'd like.

''He plays a very nice game of golf,'' Kite said.

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