Michael Jordan won five regular-season MVPs, 10 scoring titles, six championships, and six Finals MVPs during his legendary run with the Chicago Bulls. It’s nearly impossible to pick MJ’s best season since he had so many stellar campaigns.
However, Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein believes 1987-88 may have been Jordan’s top season despite the Bulls not winning the championship.
Michael Jordan was unreal in 1987-88
During the 1987-88 season, Jordan won the dunk contest, the All-Star Game MVP, the scoring title, the steals title, the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and the regular-season MVP. Silverstein, a legendary Chicago reporter, believes there is nothing like Superman’s 1987-88 campaign in NBA history.
“There is nothing like MJ’s 1988. The combination of being the league’s best player, best scorer, best dunker, and best defender is unprecedented,” Silverstein wrote in 2020. “He had more famous seasons, but the all-around dominance of ‘88 stands out even in a run of gems.”
Jordan is one of three players in NBA history to win MVP and DPOY in the same season. Hakeem Olajuwon and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the other two. His Airness is also the only player to win the scoring title and the DPOY trophy in the same year.
Even though the Bulls lost to the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 1988 playoffs in five quick games, the numbers and awards prove Jordan was on another level that year at the age of 24 and 25.
Michael Jordan’s numbers in 1987-88
Jordan played in all 82 games in 1987-88. He averaged 35.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 3.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks while shooting 53.5% from the field and 84.1% from the free-throw line. The UNC product also led the league in minutes per game (40.4).
On January 29, 1988, against the New Jersey Nets, Jordan recorded 10 steals. He also scored 32 points that night to lead the Bulls to a 120-93 win at home, showcasing his elite two-way play. Black Jesus finished the 1987-88 season with 2,868 points, 259 steals, and 131 blocks, and he dropped a whopping 40 points in the All-Star Game to take home the MVP.
It was evident after the 1987-88 season that Jordan was the best player in the NBA. The only thing left for him to accomplish was to win a championship, and he finally busted through in 1991 at the expense of one of his closest friends.
MJ beat Magic Johnson in 1991 Finals
Jordan won his first of six championships in 1991. He guided the Bulls to a five-game series win over Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers by averaging 31.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.
Magic and Jordan were such close friends that they hugged each other in the hallway at The Forum after the series ended. It was a special moment for both Hall of Famers, as Jordan won his first ring and essentially took the best-player-in-the-world title from Magic.
We may never see another season like the one Jordan had in 1987-88. However, while it was certainly an incredible individual campaign, knowing Captain Marvel, he would have traded all the awards for a championship.