Published March 28, 2022
32 Years Later, The Story Behind Michael Jordan’s Career High Game
THE LEGEND’S BEST GAME
Thirty-two years ago on this very day, NBA legend Michael Jordan put on a show against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The year prior, Jordan solidified the Bulls as eternal enemies of their divisional rivals with his iconic game-winning shot in the clutch. Dubbed The Shot, this sent Cleveland home in a deciding tiebreaker game after they once looked favorable to advance to the next round.
This wasn’t the first of Jordan’s encounters with Cleveland this season, but he had already established himself as a dangerous force against their system. He averaged forty-four points per game in their previous three encounters, all of which resulted in wins for Chicago.
What made this specific match even more high-stakes for the Cavaliers is that they were actively fighting for a spot in the playoffs; trailing only one game behind Atlanta, they could clinch the eighth seed with a win. They evidently failed, and although they would finish the season strong and go 10-3 in their final thirteen games, the damage had been done culturally.
Jordan quietly racked up points to nearly match his seasonal average by halftime, scoring thirty-one in the first two quarters. Cleveland tried their best containing him through double teaming, but their defense was exploitable early on and led to an easy Jordan takeover.
The Cavaliers tightened up their defense and played smarter in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to put a halt to what had already started. Between the two final quarters and overtime, Jordan had racked up thirty-eight more points and set a career high record.
The craziest part of it all is that he played a whopping fifty minutes. Jordan himself said that he “didn’t think about being tired because [he] wanted to win the game”.
“I’ve been in that situation where I’ve scored a lot of points and we lost, and I didn’t want that to happen.”
It was a hard-fought battle for sure and Cleveland was more engaged than his performance implies; but the greats do great things, and this was Jordan’s greatest performance.
69 points / 18 rebounds / 6 assists / 4 steals / 1 block on 62% shooting; only 2 turnovers
Highest Scoring Performances
Wilt Chamberlain – 100, 78, 73 (twice), 72, 70
Kobe Bryant – 81
David Thompson – 73
Elgin Baylor – 71
David Robinson – 71
Devin Booker – 70
Michael Jordan – 69