Michael Jordan would return to the NBA only to prove he could still play at a high level.

"It's definitely the challenge," the 38-year-old Jordan said Saturday on NBC, adding that he isn't ready to say he'll return next season. "I'm not coming back for money, I'm not coming back for the glory. I think I left the game with that, but the challenge is what I truly love."

Jordan
Watch the entire Jordan interview with Ahmad Rashad:
28.8+ | ISDN+
In an interview taped Friday in Washington, Jordan said he started thinking about a return after he began playing pickup games when his weight increased to 242 pounds. He says it is now about 218 or 220 -- slightly above his ideal playing weight of 212.

"I can't get on a treadmill," he said. "I've got to have movement, so basketball became my cardio."

Jordan, now part owner of the Washington Wizards, conceded that his competitive fire has made him think about a comeback. But from a physical aspect, he remains close to his earlier assessment of being "99.9 sure" he won't.

"Mentally, I can reduce that, because mentally I'd like to get my skills back," he explained, but added that desire alone would not be enough.

The five-time MVP and 10-time NBA scoring champion who led the Chicago Bulls to six titles, says playing pickup games can't prepare him for what he'd face in a return after three years of retirement.

"I'm not convinced as of right now that I can find those skills," he said.

Jordan won't put a timetable on a comeback decision, but knows he may eventually have to say to himself, "You know what, it was fun, but I think you better let '98 be your exit."

Jordan said the assumption that a comeback with the Wizards would mean he would have no chance for a championship is nothing more than idle talk.

"Nobody knows, and I love that," he said.

The hiring Thursday of Doug Collins -- Jordan's coach early in his career -- should not be seen as a sign that a comeback is imminent.

"I'm not really thinking about who's going to coach Michael Jordan," he said. "I can play for anyone."

Jordan retired after a storybook ending to his last game, when he hit his final shot to give the Bulls a title-clinching victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

He previously showed he could come back from a prolonged absence. After retiring in 1993 to play in the Chicago White Sox's minor league system, he returned almost two years later and led the Bulls to three more NBA titles.

"At 38 years old, I think everybody probably will be waiting and watching to see if he is truly Superman," Miami Heat coach Pat Riley said. "You know, where's the Kryptonite? If he comes back and plays at the level he did two or three years ago and dominates the game, then he definitely is from another planet. It would be very intriguing."