After appearing in only eighteen games of the second season of his pro career because of the broken bone in his left foot, Bulls superstar in the making, Michael Jordan, felt that he had something to prove in 1986-87.
MJ went to work from the very first game of the season in New York where he ‘gifted’ the Knicks fans (Spike Lee included) with the 50 memorable points. From November 28th until December 12th, 1986, he went on an unbelievable tear collecting as many as nine consecutive 40+ performances!
Then on January 8th, 1987, he lit up the visiting Portland Trail Blazers with 53 points! He would top that feat on February 26th, 1987, 11 days after celebrating his only 24th birthday, by scoring the season-high and a new career-high 58 points against the visiting New Jersey Nets!
It wasn’t that the Nets guards weren’t trying but it just looked like they are not in the same game. Jordan was in his own universe. Also, his dunking paw, ex-Bull Orlando Woolridge, was back in town, but this town in the Nets uniform. All of that propelled 1985 NBA rookie of the year to give his best against the visiting Nets!
He did it with a wide array of spectacular breakaway dunks and variety of reverse lay-ups around the basket. There was nothing Nets starting backcourt of Pearl Washington and Albert King, or their replacement unit of Leon Wood and Ray Williams could do on that particular night except to try stopping the G.O.A.T. by fouling him.
But MJ was ready for that scenario and that night he demonstrated the great focus from the charity stripe, by hitting 26 out of his 27 attempts from behind the charity stripe. Actually, that season, it was Jordan who dominated the NBA in both ‘free throws made’ and ‘free throws attempted’ categories, taking 833 and making 972 uncontested shots!
In 1986-87 Jordan topped 40+ margin for unbelievable 37 times while leading the League in scoring with an unbelievable average of 37.1 points per game, to go along with 5.2 boards, 4.6 assists, 2.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks! However, the 58-point performance vs. Nets weren’t his season-high as he soared for 61 points on two occasions – at Detroit on March 4th and vs. Atlanta in Chicago Stadium on April 16th, 1987.
After one of his most productive seasons ever Michael Jordan was voted to 1987-88 All-NBA 1st Team along with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor and the co-author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic. He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, currently working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.