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Michael Jordan: Game Over

NBA superstar Michael Jordan made it official Wednesday by formally announcing his retirement from basketball.

The hoops wizard made the announcement at a packed news conference in Chicago.

"I played it to the best I could play it," Jordan said. "I tried to be the best basketball player I could be.

"I've had a great time," he added.

Jordan alluded to his first retirement in 1993, when he briefly pursued a professional baseball career.

"Well, we do this again, a second time," he said.

Word of Jordan's retirement broke late Monday night, but he had refused to comment until Wednesday. After leading the Chicago Bulls to their sixth championship in June, Jordan had said he would make an announcement on his future only once the NBA lockout ended.

"I thought about saying just two words, 'I'm gone,' but I thought I owed my fans a lot more than that," he said, with his wife, Juanita, at his side.

"Mentally, I'm exhausted. I don't feel I have a challenge," Jordan said. "Physically, I feel great. This is a perfect time for me to walk away from the game. I'm at peace with that."

Joining the 35-year-old Jordan at the podium were Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and NBA commissioner David Stern.

"This is a day I hoped would never come," Reinsdorf said. "It's a tough day for basketball fans all over the world."

Jordan and wife Juanita (CBS)
Countered Stern: "I disagree with Jerry. This is a great day. The greatest player is retiring with the grace that describes his play."

Asked if he had lost his desire to play, Jordan responded: "The desire is always going to be there."

But he said he wanted to make sure that the desire was there "not one-fourth of the time I step onto the court, but every time."

Although he said, "I never say never," he absolutely closed the door on whether he would return to the game.

"I'm very secure in my decision," he said.

Jordan hung up his Nikes after 13 seasons as the most dominant player on the basketball court and best-known sports figure in the world. He has talked of quitting since winning the NBA championship last June.

Jordan has retired before, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara. In 1993, after the murder of his father, he quit basketball to begin a baseball career. But he was back on the court after just a year and a half.

Jordan returned to basketball in 1995 and added three more NBA titles. He's already been the league's Most Valuable Player five times, its scoring champion 10 times, and is the top per-game scorer in NBA history.

News of Jorda's departure was felt far outside the world of sports. The stock of sneaker giant Nike lost more than $2 per share on Tuesday just on fears the company's most effective pitchman was leaving the game.

Jordan, who makes an estimated $42 million to $47 million a year from endorsements, currently has deals with about a dozen brands, ranging from Gatorade sports drinks and Ball Park Franks to Hanes underwear, Rayovac batteries, Bijan cologne, and MCI WorldCom phone service.

Sponsors and marketing experts predict that Jordan's incredible popularity and business savvy will transcend his departure.

"Just as Michael broke the mold within the league, he can do it for the retired athlete as well," said Ryan Schinman, a marketing executive at Worldwide Entertainment & Sports in New York.

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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