On April 20, 1986, Michael Jordan torched the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 1986 NBA playoffs, wowing the entire basketball universe.
Jordan dropped a playoff-record 63 points for the Chicago Bulls against the favorited Celtics squad – and Jordan was only 23 years old. And he did it playing at Boston Garden. His performance had many thinking he was superhuman, and looking back at this insane scoring spectacular, who’s to say he wasn’t?
It was none other than his legendary opponent Larry Bird who said it best:
35 years ago today, a 23-year-old Michael Jordan had Larry Bird calling him "God" after MJ dropped 63 points vs. the Celtics 🐐 pic.twitter.com/OYRdVYtoRu
— ESPN (@espn) April 20, 2021
Even though the Chicago Bulls ultimately lost that game, Jordan’s one-man show certainly made the Boston Celtics work for the win. Jordan forced two overtime periods and played a total of 53 of 58 possible minutes, shooting 53.7 percent from the field. He also recorded six assists, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.
The craziest part of Jordan’s unreal statistics was that he didn’t get any freebies. Beyond the box score, only three of his 41 shots were uncontested, and almost all of his scoring came off the dribble: he was 12-of-22 on pull-up jumpers and 8-of-14 on drives to the basket.
Michael Jordan scored 63 points against the Boston Celtics on this day
It wasn’t like Boston’s defense was a cakewalk, either. Jordan had to play against Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson and All-Star Danny Ainge, to name a few greats. Still, he dropped most of his buckets while guarded by the big men.
And let’s not forget the superteam Jordan’s Bulls were competing against. Boston’s five-pronged offense spearheaded by Larry Bird helped the Celtics end their season with a 40-1 record at home, winning a total of 67 games.
Bird’s measly 36 points in Game 2 of the 1986 playoffs look like peanuts compared to Jordan’s scoring record, but Bird no doubt had the better team backing him up. If only the Bulls had a Michael Jordan-equivalent for defense…
Watch the entire Jordan highlight reel here:
The Celtics went on to win the championship that year, but this is one day Jordan fans will never forget.