Michael Jordan Could Have Ended His Career on His First Dunk Attempt in the NBA by Getting Seriously Injured: ‘You Can’t Go Up Against Jeff Ruland in That Manner’

Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan made his NBA debut on October 26, 1984, against the Washington Bullets at the Chicago Stadium. The Bulls won only 27 games in 1983-84, so they had the third overall pick in the 1984 draft and selected Jordan out of UNC.

As most rookies do, Jordan struggled to shoot the ball in his first pro game and had multiple turnovers. However, Bulls fans were just happy that MJ made it out of the game uninjured since his first dunk attempt could have ended his career.

Michael Jordan’s first dunk attempt almost ended in disaster

Jordan tried to dunk the ball on Bullets center Jeff Ruland, who was 6-foot-10. The Bulls guard came down hard on his back and laid on the floor for over a minute. The dunk wouldn’t have counted since Jordan was called for traveling. Here’s what the commentators who called the game said.

“And Jordan went up and came down hard and is injured. You can’t go up against Jeff Ruland in that manner. Jeff was just standing there, and he went up strong against Jeff Ruland, and he came down really hard.”

Jordan could have broken his back on that play. He’s fortunate he didn’t suffer a severe or career-ending injury.

Black Jesus not only returned to the game, but he played 40 minutes in the Bulls’ 109-93 victory. Jordan finished with 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and four blocks while shooting 5-of-16 from the field 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.

His Airness wasn’t efficient in his first NBA game. However, that wasn’t the case for the rest of his rookie season.

Michael Jordan shot 51.5% from the field as a rookie

Jordan was spectacular during his rookie campaign. He appeared in all 82 games and averaged 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists while shooting 51.5% from the floor and 84.5% from the free-throw line. The Bulls won 38 games and were the seventh seed in the 1985 playoffs.

Hakeem Olajuwon was the first overall pick in the 1984 draft. However, Jordan won the 1984-85 Rookie of the Year Award. He received 57.5 first-place votes. Meanwhile, the Dream got 20.5 first-place votes.

The Bulls lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 1985 playoffs in four games. Jordan averaged 29.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists, but he shot only 43.6% from the field.

Air Jordan was lucky he didn’t get hurt in his first game and ruin his bright future. Unfortunately, the All-Star wasn’t so fortunate in his second season.

MJ broke his foot

In the third game of the 1985-86 season, Jordan broke his left foot against the Golden State Warriors. He went up for a lob and landed flat-footed. The 6-foot-6 scoring machine missed 64 games.

After rehabbing his foot at UNC and fighting with Jerry Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause, Jordan played the final 15 games of the 1985-86 season. However, there was a catch: Reinsdorf and Krause only let their star player play seven minutes each half.

Jordan averaged 22.3 points while shooting 45.5% from the field over the final 15 games. The Bulls faced the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1986 playoffs and got swept by Larry Bird and Co. However, Jordan made history in Game 2.

On April 20, 1986, Jordan scored 63 points, the most points ever scored in a playoff game. Sure, the Bulls lost in double overtime. However, Chicago fans and management were ecstatic that Jordan’s foot was completely healed.

Jordan wound up winning six championships, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, and 10 scoring titles with the Bulls. He also played in all 82 games seven times after his foot injury.

It’s mind-boggling to think that Jordan’s career could have ended after the hard fall he took against the Bullets. Thank goodness it didn’t.

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