NEW YORK — Could Michael Jordan's next big acquisition for the Washington Wizards be — Michael Jordan?
Citing a source identified only as being "very close to Jordan," Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly reported in this week's edition the former NBA great is "90 percent committed" to making a comeback next season with the Wizards.
A Jordan comeback has been fueled by reports he is working out — with some saying he was spending up to six hours a day in a gym to get back into playing shape.
Jordan told The Washington Post on March 8 that a comeback "has not crossed my mind, but I will never say never."
"The first time I said never, I ended up coming back, but I can say that there's a 99.9 percent chance that I am not coming back," he said.
He downplayed this latest report, saying he is working out to get into better shape.
"To run a basketball team with the motivation of coming back to play is against any rules or ethics out there," Jordan was quoted as saying in Wednesday's Washington Post. "I am working out because I got up to 240 pounds and I'm trying to lose weight."
"Playing basketball at a health club against, in essence, some weekend warriors, is the best way I know how to lose weight. People are taking this stuff way too far, but I can't control what people write or think so I'm not going to address this any more."
Jordan's agent, David Falk, also ridiculed the report.
"I think that there is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of a chance that Michael will play again in the NBA. When you hit the last shot in the last second of his last game for a three-peat, how do you top that?" Falk told the Boston Globe.
"He wouldn't play for the veteran minimum; he'd play for the Michael Jordan minimum," Falk said. "And that would only come about if every team chipped in $2 million or $3 million because that's how much it would mean. But money isn't the issue. I wish you would print this so we can put an end to all this foolishness."
Jordan told the Post that the main reason he has no intention of playing is that he would have to sell his interest in the Wizards, which he does not want to do. He owns between 5 percent and 10 percent of the team, with the option of owning up to 20 percent.
He acknowledged to the Post that he has been working out, but only because he is up to 240 pounds and wants to "get back to a respectable weight to help me get back into my suits."
Jordan, who last played in 1998, did not return a telephone call Tuesday from The Associated Press.