April 20

This Day in History

Sports

Apr 20, 1986:

Jordan scores 63 points in playoff game

On April 20, 1986, the Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan scores 63 points in an NBA playoff game against the Boston Celtics, setting a post-season scoring record. Despite Jordan’s achievement, the Bulls lost to the Celtics in double overtime, 135-131. Boston swept the three-game series and went on to win the NBA championship.

A standout player at the University of North Carolina, Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, the third overall selection behind Hakeem Olajuwon, who went to the Houston Rockets, and Sam Bowie, who joined the Portland Trail Blazers. The 6’6” Jordan quickly established himself as a star in the NBA. He was named the league’s Rookie of the Year and led the Bulls in scoring, assists, rebounding and steals. The Bulls made it to the playoffs that year, but lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. Jordan had to sit out much of his second season due to a broken foot; however, he returned in time to join his team in the playoffs.

On April 20, 1986, in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Celtics, Jordan scored his legendary 63 points, a record that still stands. The Celtics’ star forward Larry Bird said: “He is the most exciting, awesome player in the game today. I think it’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.” The following season, “Air Jordan” became only the second NBA player, after Wilt Chamberlain, to record 3,000 points in a season. Also that year, Jordan was the first-ever player to get 200 steals and 100 blocks in a single season. Despite Jordan’s skills, the Bulls were once again swept by the Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The Bulls made it to the playoffs three more times in a row before winning their first NBA championship in 1991, a feat the team repeated in 1992 and 1993. Jordan then retired briefly to pursue a baseball career before returning to the Bulls in 1995 and leading them to three more championships, in 1996, 1997 and 1998. In 1999, Jordan retired a second time, only to return to the NBA again in 2001 to play for two years with the Washington Wizards, a team in which he also had an ownership stake.

Jordan finished his career with five NBA Most Valuable Player awards (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998), 14 All-Star game appearances and three All-Star MVP titles (1988, 1996, 1998), 10 scoring titles and two Olympic gold medals (1984, 1992). Considered one of the best all-around players in the history of basketball, Jordan remains the NBA’s highest regular season scorer, with an average of 30.1 points per game.

 

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