Chapter 30: MVP and Defensive player of the year
Towards the end of the 1987-88 season, Michael Jordan was clearly one of the best player in the league. Jordan was leading the league in scoring, and was helping the Bulls to their best record since his arrival. He was undoubtedly the Bulls’ MVP, but would he also be the league’s MVP?
Michael Jordan finished the season with an incredible stat line. He averaged 35 points on 53.5% shooting, shot 84.1% from the free throw line, collected 5.5 rebounds, dished out 5.9 assists, made 3.2 steals, and got 1.6 blocks per game. It was an improvement on his previous season’s performance in all categories except free throw shooting and scoring. Jordan had become a better player, despite the other team’s increased focus on stopping him.
Many would have argued that Jordan deserved the MVP trophy during the 86-87 season when he averaged an astounding 37.1 points per game. But the knock against Jordan then was that he could score at will, but he didn’t make his teammates better. Critics could not make the same arguments this year seeing as how Jordan led the Bulls to a 50-32 record, and earned the Bulls home court advantage in the playoffs. So when the year end awards were finally announced, it was no surprise that Michael Jordan had won his first NBA regular season MVP trophy.
What may have come as a surprise was that Michael Jordan also won the defensive player of the year award. He led the league in steals and led the Bulls in blocked shots. Defense was a part of Michael’s game that few talked about, but it was something Michael desperately wanted recognition for.
Having won pretty much every award there is to win, Michael and the Bulls focused on the tough playoff road ahead of them. First up, the Cleveland Cavaliers.