Michael Jordan had Joe Dumars on his toes during most Bulls-Pistons games as Dumars describes how most Bulls plays were for Jordan.
Michael Jordan entering the league in 1984 changed the game forever. In merely his first season with the Chicago Bulls, he led them to the Playoffs off a 28.2 point average rookie regular season against the Milwaukee Bucks. They would lose to Sidney Moncrief and company but would make their first step in the right direction.
The Bulls would actually lose their next two first round series as well, both against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. Eventually, in 1988, the Bulls would run into the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons faced the Bulls as often as ever as they were in the same division. To go along with frequent meetings in the regular season, they would play out grueling postseasons against one another for 4 straight years from 1988 to 1991.
The Pistons would best Michael Jordan and company in three straight Playoffs before eventually getting swept by them in the 1991 ECF. The man tasked with defending Jordan for years on end was none other than Joe Dumars.
Joe Dumars on how Michael Jordan played with the Bulls.
Joe Dumars had both the strength and the lateral quickness to take Michael Jordan on. While he was shorter than the eventual 6x champ, he made up for it with technique and just the right amount of prediction.
“You become consumed by Michael Jordan,” said Dumars when asked about playing against him. When ‘His Airness’ is on the court, all you can think about is trying to stop him. He would go on to point out that 95% of the Chicago Bulls’ plays were designed for Michael while the other 5% were there to somehow get him the ball.
Everybody knew the game-plan night in and night out was to get Jordan the ball and Joe Dumars used this to his advantage. Dumars forced MJ into taking bad shots and on many occasions, striped the ball away from him entirely, before he could get a shot off.
Decades later, when asked about who the best defender he ever played against was; without hesitation, Michael said it was Joe Dumars. Quite the honor for perhaps the greatest offensive player in the history of the league to anoint you as the greatest challenge he had to face.