HIGHLAND PARK, IL—After a one-month stint as a bachelor—a move that many say made the once great husband and father look "silly," "out-of-place," and "almost mortal"—Michael Jordan confirmed he was returning to his marriage with two simple words faxed to his wife Juanita's attorneys: "I'm back."
Jordan's return to his wife, with whom he had an illustrious 17-year marriage where he helped achieve three consecutive children, has the entire world wondering if Jordan will be able to gain the respect needed to lead his family back to the level of love and affection they were at before the divorce.
"Listen, Michael Jordan loves having a successful marriage, he loves the challenge, and he loves the day in and day out grind of being a caring father and husband," said NBA analyst Steven A. Smith, admitting that, in the time Jordan was away from his wife, it was odd seeing him strike out with most women, and barely reaching first base with others. "Michael Jordan belongs with Juanita, Jeffery, Marcus, and Jasmine. Period."
"He makes the entire family better just by being in the same house as them," Smith added.
According to various neighbors and relatives, Jordan had recently been seen working out differences with his wife at their Chicago mansion, which sparked rumors that his return was imminent. His comeback was all but confirmed when Jordan was overheard at his Chicago restaurant saying that he didn't like the way things had ended, and that he wanted a shot at another ring.
"I think Michael realized that he wasn't capable of doing everything on his own, and he still needed a great supporting cast to surround him," said longtime friend and host of TNT's Inside the NBA Charles Barkley, who repeatedly pointed out that Jordan never had a child without Juanita around. "I don't expect him to be rusty. Knowing Michael, he'll want to get right back into the flow of things and immediately start making an impact by taking his children to school, picking up groceries for his wife, and, though he probably shouldn't force it, he may even try to do some things outside of his comfort zone like making his family dinner."
Sources close to the superstar are saying that Jordan missed being away from his family, and could tell he was getting the itch to return when he started showing them countless photographs of his wife and children.
"I know Mike," said friend Ahmad Rashad. "And I knew that, no matter how hard he tried to stay away, his heart was always going to be with Juanita and the kids. They're his passion. And believe me, Mike is a competitor. He wants to show all those young fathers out there that he is still the best."
Even though Jordan is older, Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon said that his increased age would only make him a more effective husband. According to Wilbon, Jordan will now have to rely on the mental aspects of matrimony to keep the relationship with his wife fresh, and not the physical prowess he once counted on to get him through the tough patches.
"Things have changed since the last time Michael Jordan set foot on his home's hardwood floor," Wilbon said. "He is going to have to accept a less central role in the family plan, and act as someone his children can go to for guidance instead of someone who gets in their face and tells them how things should be done. He may have to bend the Jordan rules a little bit. Should be interesting."
Added Wilbon: "Jordan may not be the best husband and father anymore, but he is still better than 99 percent of the other husbands in this world."