May be it's because it's close to the holidays and he's thinking about collectors doing some impulse buying. Possibly he really misses the competition. OR, he just can't stand to see how his once profitable (and marketable) team and personal image have sagged.

Or could it be he's just bored?

Whatever the reason, speculation has risen yet again, in recent weeks that 'His Airiness', Michael Jordan, may be plotting yet another comeback. Before you dust off those old Jordan cards, jerseys or autographs, thinking it's going to be a "bullish" market, remember Jordan's fickle behavior.

It all began earlier in the month, when Jordan showed up at the Berto Center in suburban Deerfield, Illinois, site of the Bulls' practice facility, to play a little one-on-one with some of the current Bulls team members. Any comparison with the team that Jordan led to six worlds championships and the current ragtag group of rookies and free agents, is purely coincidence.

It seems that that Jordan attended a Bulls' game in Atlanta and was quoted as saying that he really does like what he sees in the current Bulls' coach, Tim Floyd. He did nothing to douse speculation about his possible return when quizzed by surprised reporters, following his Berto appearance, laughing aside questions, after more than a year away from the game he once dominated.

"You guys draw your own conclusions," Jordan smiled.

Jordan has had similar flirtations in the past but it was hard to resist the temptation to believe something was up. When he retired the first time in 1994, collectors believed that was really the end. The market for Jordan collectibles soared during the first six months of his "retirement." When it started to dip, Jordan tried out major-league baseball, recharging the market for his items, including baseball jerseys, sweat bands and yes, even a Jordan rookie card.

When baseball didn't work, he danced with the media for several weeks, including a similar appearance at the Berto center to "just work out for a while," according to Jordan. In a well orchestrated move, Jordan came back in March, 1996, with a simple news release proclaiming,"I'm back."

Not only was he back, but with a different uniform, eschewing No. 23 for No. 45, causing a run on jerseys and pictures with his new look. The new look lasted two months, after which he returned to No. 23 in the playoff run, that ended with a loss to Orlando. Still, the brief experience with No. 45, which is still a valuable collectible item today.

Three championships later, Jordan retired before the NBA strike ended last winter, claiming that he was going to spend more time with his family and play more golf. Because of the NBA strike, NBA items including Jordan collectibles, suffered a slight downturn.

At the beginning of this season, however, Jordan's lower profile began to show weak links in the armor that is known as Product Jordan. His line of Nike sneakers, still popular, had begun to slip in sales. Jordan cards and other collectibles were a year old, a tough nut to crack in a sports field where what is new is hot and what is almost new, is passé.

Adding insult to injury, Jordan's restaurant in the heart of downtown Chicago, changed its name, removing his, and exchanging it with the new hot figure in town, Sammy Sosa. Jordan, who licensed his name to the restaurant but did not own it, filed suit against the owners of the establishment which is still pending in court.

Truth is, Jordan needs his name in the news to keep the market going for his items and to earn more commercial endorsements. He's already earned more money than anyone could hope to spend in 23 lifetimes. At age 37, he isn't the same resilient athlete he was the first time he retired.

Collectors should be weary of Jordan's moves. It's still unlikely he would return to the NBA, either to the Bulls, who might be lucky to win 15 games this year or reuniting with Coach Phil Jackson of the Lakers, who would have severe salary cap problems signing Jordan.

Instead, collectors can only smile at the 'Unretirement' talk and start looking at investing in the likes of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter -- Jordans of the future.