Jordan to return for second year with Wizards

Michael Jordan plans to play another season with the Washington Wizards, confident his 39-year-old knees are healthy enough to allow him to finish his contract with the team.

"My love for the game of basketball continues to drive my decision," he said in a statement released today by the Wizards. "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."

The statement lacked the drama and magnitude of Jordan's announcement a year ago, when he ended a 31/2-year retirement by resigning from the Wizards' front office and signing a two-year contract to resume his playing career.

Jordan averaged 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists last season, but he also led the Wizards in turnovers (2.7), and his shooting percentage (41.6) was nearly 9 percentage points off his career average.

Jordan played 60 of 82 games and started 53, while trying 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.

Wizards coach Doug Collins has said he plans to use Jordan off the bench for the first time in his career. But in his statement, Jordan said, "No decisions have been made as to my exact role on the team."

The Wizards were active in the offseason, acquiring Jerry Stackhouse in a trade with the Detroit Pistons and signing free agents Larry Hughes and Bryon Russell.

Jordan has averaged 31 points during his career, which includes 13 All-Star appearances and six championships with the Bulls.