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'There's only so much golf you can do'

Imagine that you've retired from a legendary career as a professional athlete. You own an array of businesses worth an estimated $357 million, and your income from endorsements alone amounts to $70 million per year.

Imagine that you're Michael Jordan.

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Now, consider this scenario: You give up retirement in order to invest in one of the least successful franchises in all of professional sports, the NBA's Washington Wizards.

And, along with your role as part-owner, you agree to take charge of basketball operations - reportedly a 60-hour-a-week job.

The question is: Why?

Says Hall of Famer Larry Bird, the coach of the Indiana Pacers, commenting on his own exit from retirement: "There's just too much free time on your hands. There's only so much golf and fishing you can do. You're used to a fast pace and the competition. That's the main thing you miss: the competition."

Bob Leonard, the Pacers' first head coach and now their broadcaster, sees the return of Jordan to the NBA as benefiting both parties. "The NBA needs the Michael Jordans," he says. "We need our best people to continue in some capacity. Sure, it's a big challenge. But people like Michael Jordan, they need challenges."

On Jan. 26, one week after taking the Wizards job, Jordan announced yet another business venture: MVP.com, an online sporting-goods company. The site includes features such as advice on what to look for when buying a football. Jordan's two partners in the venture are football great John Elway and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. All three retired in 1999

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society