JEFF PEARLMAN

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Why is Michael Jordan returning … now?

So according to a report on ESPN.com, Michael Jordan announced a few minutes ago that he’s coming out of retirement—again—to finish the season with the Bobcats in an effort to make a playoff push.

Obviously, like everyone of a certain era I loved watching Jordan in his prime, and I had no real trouble with his return to Washington (hey, he was in his late 30s when it happened—still viable). But as His Airness approaches (dear God) 50, I just don’t get it. Ego? A need to play? A need for the spotlight?

Why?

This, from the story on ESPN.com, with reporting by Stephen A. Smith:

Jordan, 48, had reportedly been working out with the Bobcats during closed sessions. “He can shoot with any of us,” one player said. “And he seems to still have his strength. To me, it’s an honor.”

I’m sorry, but at 48 a basketball player can’t still “have his strength.” Muscles break down. Endurance isn’t what it was. I was there when, at his dreadful Hall of Fame speech two years ago, Jordan threatened to return at age 50. But who believed him? Who thought he’d turn an amazing career into a late-game carnival act?

I’ve seen too many comebacks fail to buy this one. Jim Palmer. Björn Borg. Bill Johnson. Mike Tyson. Sugar Ray Leonard. On and on and on.

This one, I fear, will be the saddest of all.