WASHINGTON -- Washington Wizards majority owner Abe Pollin said Monday that he believes the odds are that Michael Jordan will return to the National Basketball Association as a player for the Wizards next season.
Speaking first in an interview with Comcast SportsNet host Chick Hernandez Monday evening, and later with The Post, Pollin said he could not say for sure if Jordan, 38, would return to playing and stressed that as far as he knows, Jordan hasn't yet made up his mind.
"The odds are that he's going to come back," Pollin said. " . . . I think he's going to decide whether he's going to be able to play at the level that is satisfying to him."
Jordan, a part-owner and president of basketball operations, has continuously denied a comeback and was unavailable for comment Monday evening. One team official said that Jordan was unreachable. Four high-ranking Wizards officials, who did not want to comment but who all speak to Jordan nearly every day, said Jordan has never mentioned coming back.
Pollin stressed that he was simply stating his opinion. "What I said was my gut feeling," Pollin said. "It's his decision. I didn't think he'd come back when I first heard the talk. But when (National Hockey League Hall of Famer) Mario Lemieux came back to the Penguins, it stirred something in Michael."
Lemieux, one of the owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins, astonished the sports world when he returned to the ice in December after retiring at the end of the 1997 season. He led the Penguins into the playoffs, where they'll meet the Washington Capitals starting Thursday.
Pollin said he thinks Jordan, who won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, is going through a self-examination of sorts.
"He's certainly working at seeing if he feels like he can" return, Pollin said. "He's told me when he has something to say about it, he'll tell me.
"We'd welcome him with open arms," said Pollin, whose team's 18-59 record is third worst in the NBA.
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