Thursday, April 21, 2011

25 Years Since 63 - MJ's Arrival

The box score from April 20, 1986 where Michael Jordan made history in the Boston Garden

I gotta thank Twitter for this one. Following @BLKFACTS usually has some cool tidbits but last night saw one I paid attention to. Yesterday turned out to be the 25th anniversary of Michael Jordan's 63-point game against the Celtics in the 1st round of the 1986 playoffs.

What more can you say about this game that hasn't been said. The most points scored in playoff history. Larry Bird calling him "God". Jordan missing 64 games of the regular season and setting Game 2 with a 49-point Game 1 performance. All of this happening in his second full season. Here's what makes this game even more impressive.

- MJ did this against one of the greatest teams in NBA history that had the league MVP in Bird and two of the best defenders in the league that year in Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson. Boston also finished 3rd in points allowed. 
- He shot over 50% despite having a suspect jumper and didn't take a single three-pointer.
- He led the team with 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
- Did I mention the 30-52 Chicago Bulls were the 2nd worst team record-wise to ever the postseason. Kyle Macy? Sidney Green? Dave Corzine? These were the guys playing with MJ, Orlando Woolridge and Charles Oakley.
- It was Jordan's 1st 50-point game. Couldn't have picked a better time to have the greatest point explosion in NBA playoff history.

Thanks to NBA 2K11, most folks have a better appreciation of how incredible this feat was. Trying to recreate 63 points is hard enough without factoring in the 6 assists or how good that 86 Celtics team really was (Just look at that box score - Danny Ainge with 24, gimpy Bill Walton off the bench with 10 and 15, and that's before you see what Bird and McHale did

You almost have to be completely selfish to do it before you realize that Jordan accomplished this completely within the flow of the game while recognizing the need to go clutch. In Game 3, Jordan faced constant double teams and only had 19 points to go with 10 rebounds and 9 assists in the loss. To paraphrase, MJ was "held" to a near triple-double as his team was swept. 

25 years later, it's still awe-inspiring. The first of many that showed why he's the greatest basketball player ever. 

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