Michael Jordan Went Back to UNC to Rehab His Broken Foot and Played 5-On-5 Without the Bulls’ Permission: ‘The Bulls Never Knew I Was Doing It’
In the third game of the 1985-86 season, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan broke his left foot against the Golden State Warriors on October 29, 1985. The shooting guard went up for a lob and landed flat-footed.
Jordan missed 64 games and grew irritated since he couldn’t do anything. As his foot got better, he asked the Bulls if he could go back to UNC to rehab his injury. However, Jordan did more than just rehab his foot at Chapel Hill.
Michael Jordan played five-on-five without the Bulls’ permission
Jordan said he played five-on-five at UNC in Episode 2 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries, and the Bulls never knew. When he returned to Chicago, MJ got caught since his left calf muscles were stronger than his right calf muscles.
“I just started going to the gym, shooting,” Jordan said. “And then I started playing one-on-one, and then I started playing two-on-two, then I started playing three-on-three. Next, I was playing five-on-five, and the Bulls never knew I was doing it. And when I got back with the Bulls, my calf muscles in my injured calf were stronger than my uninjured calf. So the first thing they said, ‘What in the hell you been doing?'”
Jordan fought with Jerry Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause to let him come back and play, but the two men wanted him to sit out the rest of the season. Eventually, His Airness and the Bulls reached a compromise, but it didn’t sit well with Air Jordan.
Michael Jordan could only play seven minutes each half
Jordan played the final 15 games of the 1985-86 season. However, Reinsdorf and Krause only let him play seven minutes each half, and that made Black Jesus angry.
“The thing was, at the time, we were going through a rebuilding process, and I was practicing two hours a day, and that was the thing that bothered me more than anything,” Jordan told ESPN in 2012. “If I can go through two-hour practices, as intense as I practice, then when the game came, they gave me a seven-minute window (in each half) to play. That’s when I felt more frustrated than anything. I felt more than anything they were positioning themselves for the draft, and I didn’t feel good being part of that. I felt I was an all-out player who didn’t half-ass anything, and they wanted to move up (in the draft). I was a player. I wanted to play.”
Jordan averaged 22.3 points after coming back from his foot injury and guided the Bulls to the postseason. Chicago faced the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1986 playoffs and got swept in three games. However, Superman made history in Game 2.
MJ scored 63 points in Game 2
Jordan scored an NBA playoff record 63 points against the Celtics in Game 2. He shot 22-of-41 from the field and 19-of-21 from the free-throw line. Even though the Bulls lost by four points, the entire NBA world was in awe of what Jordan did.
If Reinsdorf and Krause had gotten their way, we would have never seen Jordan drop 63 points in a playoff game. Thank god the five-time MVP didn’t listen to his bosses and chose to come back.
Jordan was highly durable after his foot injury, playing in all 82 games seven times. The six-time champion took special care of his body and was always in elite shape.