WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Michael Jordan will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will be lost to the Washington Wizards for an indefinite period, it was announced Tuesday.
The balky knee forced Jordan, who made a spectacular return to the NBA this season after three years in retirement, to be placed on the injured list where he has not been since the second season of his illustrious career.
Jordan, 39, not only re-established himself as one of the game's best players but also lifted the once-woebegone Wizards into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
But there were questions whether the five-time Most Valuable Player's body could withstand the rigors of an 82-game season. As of Tuesday, the answer is no.
The time and date of the surgery has yet to be determined. It will be performed by the Wizards team physician, Dr. Stephen Haas. A timetable will be determined following the surgery.
"This is the best course of action for Michael at this time," Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld said. "This is the best way for our doctors to determine exactly what is wrong with his knee."
Perhaps the greatest player of all time, Jordan sat out last Wednesday's loss at Detroit with a sore knee. He played in a pair of games against Miami over the weekend and scored just 25 points, sitting out the final six-plus minutes of Sunday's loss.
Jordan, who is eighth in the NBA in scoring at 24.3 points per game, will miss at least five games, beginning Wednesday against Portland. The Wizards are 27-28 and tied with Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East.
"We can put our heads down and cancel everything or we can come together as a group," said Wizards guard Richard Hamilton, the team's second leading scorer. "In order for us to grow, this is the time for us to grow, right now."
Jordan sat out one other game this season, a loss at San Antonio on Dec. 4. He has had his knee drained three times this season.
After leading the Chicago Bulls to six championships in eight years during the 1990s -- winning the NBA Finals MVP each time -- Jordan retired in 1998.
He became part owner and president of the Wizards in January 2000 and began shifting personnel before deciding in September to return to the court.
After a tentative start, Jordan has been outstanding for most of the season. He has scored 40 points five times and a season-high 51 vs. Charlotte on Dec.29. He also is averaging 6.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists and making his teammates better, perhaps his greatest achievement this season.