It’s almost impossible to point out which game in Michael Jordan’s career is the best one, and fans who watched him carefully would probably think of a different performance depending on their personal preference. However, if you ask Jordan what his personal favorite is, you might get a somewhat surprising answer since it’s not a game in the NBA finals or even the playoffs.
In an older interview for the Slam Magazine, Jordan actually pointed out his favorite game is actually against his long-time rivals in the ’80s, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were one of the best eastern conference teams in the second part of the decade, and the Bulls had several great battles with them. In one game specifically, Jordan actually had his career-high in points when he dropped 69 points to go alongside a career-high 18 rebounds.
With that feat, he is one of six players with 60-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in a game since 1986. The other players on the list are David Robinson, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone, and James Harden.
I think the game I had against Cleveland when I had 69, that was strictly off of anger and disappointment. Earlier in the first quarter, when I think I got a hard foul from Hot Rod and I—you know, I fell the wrong way, and I was really in pain. And the whole crowd cheered! And that right there pissed me off because they were more in tune to winning than someone’s health. And that kind of got me fired up. That’s when I went crazy.Michael Jordan, via Slam Magazine
The game was a very close contest, and it went to overtime in which the Bulls won 117-113. The Cavs player who was in charge of guarding Jordan in the game was Craig Ehlo, who, despite being close friends with him at the time, didn’t get spared in any way.
Yeah, we talk. We take pictures with his kids. We’re pretty good friends, but we’re fierce competitors. I like Craig. I always have. But on the court, there’s no friendship; I’m still trying to win.Michael Jordan, via Slam Magazine
Another fascinating thing about this game is that Jordan played 50 minutes, which was pretty substantial considering everything. However, that didn’t matter at all because after the game said winning is all that matters because he remembered the times when even though he scored a lot of points, his team lost anyway.
I didn’t think about being tired because I wanted to win the game. I’ve been in that situation where I’ve scored a lot of points and we lost, and I didn’t want that to happen. So I kept pushing myself, kept talking to myself, saying, ‘Don’t stop, don’t stop. Keep going.’ You feel better about the effort when you win.”Michael Jordan, via NBA.com