When someone brings up Jordan, most people think about his six championships and six Finals MVPs. However, Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein believes there’s a number many fans tend to overlook when it comes to His Airness.
Michael Jordan only missed one game after coming back from baseball
After playing baseball in 1994, Jordan returned to the Bulls on March 19, 1995, and he only missed one game for the rest of his Chicago career. Black Jesus played in 357 games out of a possible 358 from March 19, 1995, to June 14, 1998.
The only game Jordan missed from March 1995 to June 1998 was the Bulls’ sixth preseason contest in 1997-98. The UNC product had surgery on both feet to remove ingrown toenails.
“Three-hundred fifty-seven out of three-hundred fifty-eight games, from age 32 to age 35,” Silverstein noted. “That’s 263 of 263 regular-season games, three of three All-Star games, 68 of 68 postseason games, and 23 of 24 preseason games.”
Jordan not only played in every game for the Bulls (except that one meaningless preseason game in 1997-98 ) after coming back from baseball, but he also won two regular-season MVPs, three scoring titles, three championships, and three Finals MVPs.
Michael Jordan averaged 29.4 points from 1995 to 1998
Jordan appeared in 263 regular-season games with the Bulls after coming out of retirement in 1995. He averaged 29.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting 47.7% from the field. The 14-time All-Star won the 1996 and 1998 regular-season MVP Award and the scoring title in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
In 68 postseason games with the Bulls following his baseball adventure, Jordan put up 31.4 points per contest. While he did lose to the Orlando Magic in the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, MJ responded by winning three straight titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Jordan is the NBA’s all-time regular-season leader in points per game (30.1) and player efficiency rating (27.9). Incredibly, he’s also the all-time postseason leader in those categories as well. The Bulls icon averaged 33.4 points in 179 playoff games while recording a player efficiency rating of 28.6.
During the 1998 Finals against the Utah Jazz, Jordan was 35 and coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. He had every excuse to be tired and not deliver the goods when it mattered most, especially since he had played in so many games following his baseball stint.
However, Superman was determined to finish his final season with the Bulls strong, and he accomplished his goal in thrilling fashion by putting on a show in his last contest in a Chicago uniform.
MJ’s last game with the Bulls was legendary
The Jazz had a 86-83 lead over the Bulls in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals with 41.0 seconds left in regulation. Scottie Pippen could barely run up and down the floor due to his back injury, and Jordan was running on fumes. It appeared Utah would win Game 6 to force a Game 7, but Captain Marvel had other ideas.
With 37.0 seconds remaining, Jordan made a layup to cut the Bulls’ deficit to one. He then recorded arguably the biggest steal in NBA history, stealing the ball from Karl Malone at the 18-second mark. What happened next is a shot that is framed and hanging in every Chicago sports bar.
Jordan crossed over Bryon Russell and hit a jumper with 5.0 seconds left to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead. John Stockton missed a potential game-winner on the next possession, sealing the win for Chicago. Jordan finished his Bulls career a perfect 6-0 in the Finals and took home all six Finals MVPs. It’s even more impressive when you consider he won his final three championships while only missing one preseason game.