Michael Jordan had arguably the greatest individual season of his career with the Bulls in 1988-89. We take a look at his playoff run that year here.
This was a time when Scottie Pippen was only a sophomore and the Bulls were yet to emerge as serious contenders. Michael Jordan had a barnstorming regular season to back up his MVP winning 87-88 season. In terms of advanced statistics, this is the greatest 82-game campaign in NBA history.
Jordan averaged 32.5 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists per game through the year. Halfway through the season, coach Doug Collins moved him to the point guard position. Jordan responded with a streak of 7 straight triple-doubles. He, however, lost out on the MVP award in the tightest MVP race ever.
Michael Jordan’s 1988-89 season put into perspective
Jordan’s best scoring teammate through the regular season was a sophomore Pippen, who managed 14.4 points per game. He won the scoring title, led the team in assists and steals and was marginally second in rebounding and blocks. By Bleacher Report’s Total Points Added metric, this is the greatest individual season of all time, bar none.
The Bulls finished with a 47-35 record, good for 6th place in the Eastern Conference. This pitted them against the 3rd-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, a team that had swept them 6-0 in the regular season.
During the 1988-89 season, Michael Jordan was moved to the point guard position as an experiment.
MJ went on to record a triple-double in 10 of the 11 games he played at the position.
He averaged a 33.6 points, 11.4 assists and 10.8 rebounds. pic.twitter.com/5HGzL9rUh4
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MJ put up a mind-boggling 39.8 points per game through this series, and hit possibly the most iconic game-winner of all time. The Bulls then went up against the 2nd seeded New York Knicks, whom they saw off in 6 games as Jordan averaged north of 35 points per game again.
The Pistons implemented the Jordan Rules in the Conference Finals against the Bulls, but were unable to stop Jordan bagging 2 games for Chicago. These two were the only losses Detroit sustained in their run to the championship that year.
Given the amount of carrying Jordan had to do to get the Bulls to this point, he was looked at as the consensus best player in the league by now.