Welcome back.

Michael, that space above is for you. May God have mercy on your soul.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan, undisputedly the greatest player in the history of the National Basketball Association, announced yesterday his return to the NBA as a Washington Wizard. Jordan signed a two-year deal with the Wiz Kids that reaffirmed his passion for performing at the highest competitive level of basketball in the world.

I strolled into the Nexus office the other day, unaware that anything exceptional had happened in sports. I’m milling around, and I pull up the AP article: M.J. Returns. Though I don’t think anybody who’s kept tabs of Air Jordan’s progress was surprised; seeing it in front of my eyes was like time slowing down – enough that I felt I should grab it and pull it back.

“I am returning as a player to the game I love,” Jordan said in a news release.

Later in the evening, I watch the Chicago Bulls vs. the Utah Jazz Game 6 in the 1998 Finals on NBATV before a hideous Delta Center crowd. Bob Costas is still making the same snide comments, Isiah Thomas is still a cool Chicago cat, and Doug Collins is still praising his former and future player. Collins coached the Bulls for three years before Phil Jackson took Chicago to the Promised Land. Collins was handpicked by Jordan to be the current Washington coach. Oh, and Ahmad Rashad is still Michael Jordan’s bitch, main man.

Watching what I then thought was Jordan’s last shot pirouetting into the net still gave a chill down my body.

All summer I was bemoaning Jordan’s comeback: A comeback would tarnish his legacy – he won’t be the same player, can’t see him anywhere but Chicago, he’ll embarrass himself, the Wizards start Chris Whitney. On and on. Christian Laettner is still the undisputed Sissy-Boy of the league. He’s on the Wiz, too.

Michael’s decision to return for a third hurrah was drawing steam the last two weeks. And for the first time all summer, I stepped back and looked at what Jordan wanted for himself. And maybe all fans out there who are critical of MJ should step back and think for a minute. The man is doing what he loves. There isn’t anything in this world that drives Michael harder than basketball.

Asking Jordan to get up and leave the game would be like asking a poet who’s been writing his or her entire life to put the pen down. Just because someone starts sprouting a little gray does not mean we can’t enjoy watching them for whatever they bring to the table.

I personally am interested in how Jordan is going to approach the game as a forward, and what he’ll do to compete with the young leapers of the game today. Besides, Jordan brings style, tenacity and personality to the game that the majority of the young players lack. Jordan lives up to his billing, and it is hard to imagine that he will not continue to exceed everyone’s expectations but his own.

Yeah, I wish Michael would end his career in a Bulls uniform, but no one can ever take his love of the game away from him.

Michael, you have more money than God, but good luck. All that money isn’t going make you run faster than Allen Iverson, jump higher than Vince Carter, or win a championship with the Washington Wizards.

Michael: you’re on your own.