Michael Jordan, a basketball player in whom commentators have discerned aristocratic qualities and supernatural powers, has retired from the game that made him one of the worlds' best known and best paid sportsmen.
Last week's announcement was premature by most people's measurement - Jordan is 30 and at the height of his playing and earning power - but it was not, by his own account, taken hastily, or rashly. "This is, " he said, with a rare stumble, " the perfect timing for me to walk away."
After three championships with the Chicago Bulls, a second gold medal with the US team at the 1992 Olympics, Jordan felt his motivation slipping away. "I'm at the pinnacle, " he told a thronged press conference. "I just feel I don't have anything else to prove."
But this explanation may appear too simple to satisfy the skeptics, who have recently discovered that Jordan does not lead an untroubled private life. First came the allegations that he gambled - in a country where gambling is mostly illegal - and that his gambling was out of control. Then his father was shot dead on July 23.
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