Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan loves to play golf and destroy his opponents. During his NBA career, His Airness routinely hit the links before playing in basketball games and was somehow able to play well in both sports.
In the 1986 playoffs, Jordan’s Bulls faced Larry Bird‘s Boston Celtics in the first round. Not only did MJ play golf with a Celtics player before Game 2 of the series, but he also predicted his historical performance on the golf course.
Michael Jordan played golf with Danny Ainge and told him to tell Dennis Johnson to be ready for Game 2
Jordan and Celtics guard Danny Ainge played golf together a day before Game 2 of the Bulls-Celtics series. In Episode 2 of The Last Dance docuseries, Ainge said he took some money from Jordan on the links, which may have been the wrong thing to do.
“I remember Game 2. I’d played golf with Michael the day before,” Ainge said. “I took a few bucks off of Michael that day, and we’re talking trash to each other. That might have been a mistake.”
After their match, Jordan dropped off Ainge at his house and told him, “Tell your boy DJ I got something for him tomorrow.” The Bulls star was telling Ainge to warn his teammate, Dennis Johnson, about what he was going to do in Game 2, and it turned out to be a magical performance.
Michael Jordan scored playoff record 63 points
Jordan scored a whopping 63 points in Game 2 against the Celtics. He shot 22-of-41 from the field and 19-of-21 from the free-throw line in 53 minutes of action. 63 is still the most points ever scored in a postseason game.
Despite Jordan’s stellar play, the Bulls lost by a final score of 135-131 in double overtime. Boston wound up sweeping Chicago, but the NBA world was in awe of how terrific Jordan was against the mighty Celtics, who won the ’86 championship over the Houston Rockets.
Jordan was bounced in the first round of the playoffs three years in a row to begin his career. He didn’t make it to the second round until 1988. The Detroit Pistons were a thorn in Jordan’s side from 1988 to 1990. However, once the Bulls finally got past the “Bad Boys,” they established themselves as possibly the greatest dynasty in NBA history.
MJ led Bulls to six championships
Behind Jordan, the Bulls played in six Finals in the ’90s and won each time. They defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Seattle SuperSonics, and Utah Jazz (twice) for their six Larry O’Brien trophies.
Pundits used to label Jordan as a spectacular scorer who couldn’t win the big game like Magic Johnson and Bird. The UNC product took that criticism personally and used it as motivation. Jordan finished his career with more rings and Finals MVPs than Johnson and Bird. He also never lost in the Finals, something Bird and Magic can’t say they did.
Jordan is the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game. He averaged 30.1 points and won 10 scoring titles. His 63-point outing against the Celtics was his coming-out party in the NBA, and it will certainly be a spectacle that is talked about for decades.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.