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M.J. returns for the good of the sporting world

Uh oh, America. Now you've done it.

When whispers wafted about a possible Michael Jordan return, you chided and ripped, questioned and frowned. Most of all, you became possessive, stripping M.J. of the legacy he crafted himself and stealing it as your own. Jordan stopped being a hero and became your hero. His legacy no longer represented his lifetime achievements, but everyone else's fantasy.

Consequentially, you so sparked Jordan's anger that a comeback as fleeting fancy soon became a necessary act of self-reclamation.

In your bullheadedness, in your desire to be Mike rather than "be like Mike," you left him no choice but to prove that his legacy belongs to him, that it will be chronicled in full when he darn well pleases.

The first and last time a person told Jordan man to man that he couldn't cut the mustard was that now-infamous freshman high school basketball coach. Haven't heard too much from him lately, now have we?

America, you just followed his notorious lead, and for that you are to be congratulated. Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your pessimism.

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  • I am bamboozled at how Jordan's NBA reincarnation is a bad thing.

    A few extra years and pounds won't abate Jordan's voracious hunger for competition. The 38-year-old Jordan is the same man who once lost to Scott Williams in a post-practice ping-pong match, then immediately purchased a table and practiced indefatigably until he beat his teammate. A 29-year-old Jordan lost a golf outing to Dream Team I coach Chuck Daly in Barcelona, then pounded on Daly's door the following morning at sunrise and subsequently chipped and putted him to a pulp.

    Worry not. He'll give it his all, and even if his best isn't dropping 55 at Madison Square Garden every night, it's better than no Jordan at all.

    Oft criticized as watered-down for its surplus of unknown foreigners and unprepared teenagers, the NBA will take any swirl to its vanilla. Jordan's presence adds just that.

    Moreover, Jordan does to the sporting populace what no other athlete can - he unifies it in appreciation.

    Baseball's brightest star, Barry Bonds, can't see over the chip on his shoulder. The NFL's two preeminent players, Ray Lewis and Randy Moss, may be two of its more petulant people. Tennis is a boiling cauldron of teenage spite. Golf has one star and three hundred guys named Herb. Hockey players will win scrabble games (Ilja Bryzgalov, anyone?) but not popularity contests.

    To this problem, Jordan is the only solution.

    Still not buying the comeback? Consider the alternative.

    Front office suit Jordan - he who commanded the hapless Washington Wizards from high atop an ivory tower - felt just as helpless as his lost sheep. This was not the defiant, determined Jordan for which we hung posters, but a docile diplomat.

    Sure he could dump contracts, dismiss discontented veterans and welcome promising newcomers, but he couldn't physically force a championship - or even a winner - from the president's box.

    Pushing this medley of mediocre journeymen and confused youngsters into the playoffs may be next to impossible, even with No. 23 on the floor, but at least he's not trying to coax wins behind a podium.

    Most importantly, how else can I justify why I wear his underwear, sport his cologne, dunk in his sneakers, eat his hamburger and use his phone company?

    If he didn't return, my far-fetched explanation would sound something like this: "A man with the nerve to trade for Christian Laettner can sell me on Hanes any day"