A Legacy Is Born: Michael Jordan Roasts Celtics For All-Time NBA Playoffs Scoring-High

A Legacy Is Born: Michael Jordan Roasts Celtics For All-Time NBA Playoffs Scoring-High NBA History

On 20 April 1986, Michael Jordan truly came of age in the NBA. It was the day Jordan established himself as an omnipotent force for the coming decade, with a scoring performance that confounded the dreaded Boston Celtics. At the time, Boston were the cream of the East. They were constantly battling the Los Angeles Lakers for league supremacy and their true conference rivals were the Detroit Pistons a.k.a. The Bad Boys.

Jordan has missed 64 games of the 1985-86 regular season due to injury. Yet, the Bulls managed to sneak through to the playoffs. As the eighth seed, the Bulls faced the mighty Celtics. The Celtics, who boasted of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. The Bulls were sceptical of Jordan’s return in the playoffs, fearing he would injure his foot again.

Yet, Jordan was known as a man for big occasions and he cherished nothing more than the opportunity to showcase his talent on the big stage. So after scoring 49 points in a losing effort in Game 1 against the Celtics, Jordan was looking forward to Game 2.


In Game 2, on 20 April, the Bulls pushed the Celtics all the way in the game behind Jordan’s monster scoring effort. Boston threw everyone and everything at Jordan. They loaded up their defense to stop him, but Jordan still scored on every double and triple team he saw.


By the time the game was over Jordan’s prodigious scoring output had set a new NBA playoff record, eclipsing Elgin Baylor’s 61 points against the Boston Celtics, on April 14, 1962. He made 22 of his attempted 41 field goals, made 19-of-21 free throws and put nine-time All-Defense player Dennis Johnson look like a rookie on skates. The Bulls lost that game in double OT, but MJ had won admirers like never before.


The Celtics would go on to win the series in a 3-0 sweep, but Jordan’s performance had set the stage for the Bulls’ franchise to thrive in the post-season for years to come thereafter.


Jordan’s historic 63-point game merited high praise from some of the game’s best including Larry Legend himself.