Michael Jordan’s top five games ranked after ‘The Last Dance’ final episode
Michael Jordan is still considered by most to be the best basketball player to ever walk the earth, having won six NBA championships, six NBA Finals MVP awards and five NBA MVP awards. The Chicago Bulls icon has an unrivalled career, which is captured in the new documentary ‘The Last Dance’, and Express Sport has rifled through his catalogue of incredible individual performances to pick out his best five.
5 – Jordan vs Bird – 1986 Eastern Conference first-round vs Boston Celtics
When Jordan went up against Larry Bird in the 1986 play-offs, he was facing off against what was claimed to be one of the best teams in history at that point.
The ’86 Celtics were unstoppable and had five hall-of-fame players, including legendary Bird who was well on his way to becoming one of the best players ever.
Jordan went on to break the NBA record for points in a play-off game, scoring 63 points against the Celtics in a stunning performance.
Despite the fact the Bulls lost, Jordan’s performance was an early indication of how ‘MJ’ would handle the pressure of playing on the biggest stage possible.
4 – ‘The Shrug’ – 1992 NBA Finals Game Two vs Portland Trail Blazers
Jordan was no stranger to a showstopping NBA Finals performance, and his display in game two of the 1992 series with the Portland Trail Blazers was one of his best.
The Bulls were desperate to win their second championship in a row, with Jordan stamping his authority on the series early on.
He was never known as a three-point menace, but decided to break the NBA record for most three-pointers in a half [six] while breaking the record points total for a half .
Jordan’s famous shrug to the camera table after breaking the three-point record is what most people remember about the game, and was clearly an indication of Jordan at the peak of his powers.
He only scored four points in the second half, but having scored 35 in the first his part in the win was already done.
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3 – Jordan’s [second] final game – 1998 NBA Finals Game Six vs Utah Jazz
It’s only fitting that Jordan’s final game for the Chicago Bulls makes this list.
Going into the 1998 Finals, everyone knew it would be the last chance Jordan would have at another title in Chicago, as he would be leaving the team at the end of the season.
And Jordan clearly wanted to make a statement in his final game, as he put on a show to clinch the Bulls’ sixth title in eight years – their second ‘threepeat’.
The 35-year-old finished the game with 45 points as he dominated the game, scoring a game-winning basket with a beautiful shot after crossing over Bryon Russell.
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2 – Jordan’s comeback – 1995 NBA regular season vs Indiana Pacers
Jordan stunned the world in 1994 when he announced he was retiring from professional basketball just after winning a third straight NBA title.
The Chicago Bulls – and Jordan – were on top of the world, but ‘MJ’ felt he had achieved everything possible and chose to walk away and play baseball.
Thanks to the MLB lockout, Jordan returned to the league 17 months later, with the Bulls faltering in their first post-Jordan season with a record of 23 wins and 25 losses.
In his first game back, despite having played baseball for the last year-and-a-half, Jordan clocked 19 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals against the Indiana Pacers.
While it may not be considered to be Jordan at the peak of his powers, the fact he was able to immediately re-establish himself as a leading player the day after announcing his comeback is as much a proof of his greatness as anything.
1 – ‘The Flu Game’ – 1997 NBA Finals Game Five vs Utah Jazz
In the present-day NBA, a player scoring 38 points is impressive. Doing it with seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block is even more eyebrow-raising.
Back in 1997, a 33-year-old Michael Jordan did that to the Utah Jazz in game five of the NBA Finals, with the state of the Chicago Bulls dynasty on the line.
Going into the game, the Bulls had won the opening two games of the series but had squandered the lead in Utah, losing back-to-back games. Two more defeats would have ended their hopes of retaining the championship and could have had huge ramifications for ‘MJ’s career.
Things weren’t made any easier by the fact that Jordan had been diagnosed with a stomach virus just hours before the game, having spent the night before the game being sick in his hotel room. Bulls trainers had declared that there was no way the megastar would be able to play in the condition he was in.
Somehow, Jordan got out of bed an hour and ten minutes before tip-off and made his way to the arena, before putting in a career-defining performance and winning the game for the Bulls to give them the advantage in the series.
Jordan could barely stand at the end of the game, and was seen with a towel over his head on the bench mid-game appearing to be close to passing out, but that didn’t stop him from dragging the Bulls to victory when it mattered the most.
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