Hi Michael Jordan fans!
I hope you have enjoyed reading the early chapters of The Evolution of Michael Jordan. I have received many positive comments about this blog and it seems that there are still many Michael Jordan fans out there who want to learn more about his life and about all of his accomplishments. I have worked very hard on the research and the writing of this blog, and I hope that you like what you’re reading.
As for the future of this blog, I am thinking of publishing the contents here as an ebook. I think an ebook will work well because it will allow the story of Michael Jordan to come to life through writing, images, and videos. The ebook will contain lots of additional material, especially about the other people close to MJ. I plan on writing special chapters focusing on the other Bull’s players such as Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Steve Kerr. I also plan on writing chapters of some of Michael’s biggest rivals, such as Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kobe Bryant.
If you think that this is a good idea and that you would be willing to purchase the ebook, please fill out the poll below. Thanks for your help!
The 1987-88 season started unlike any previous season for Michael Jordan. He was still torching opponent defenses and leading the league in scoring, but now the Bulls were also winning most of their games. The Bulls started the season with 4 straight wins, and finished off the month of November with a 10-3 record, best in the NBA.
The wins were the result of great team work and effort from everyone involved. Coach Doug Collins was leading the Bulls in the right direction, Charles Oakley provided veteran experience and a physical presence on the court, and the new rookies Pippen and Grant brought youth and energy to the team. But much of the credit still goes to Michael Jordan, who was leading the charge on both ends of the floor. In addition to leading the team in scoring, he also led the team in steals and blocks.
Here is one of Michael’s best games early that season vs. the Cavs. Pippen also makes a great play with a powerful jam over 2 Cavs defenders in this clip.
By this point in his career, Michael had turned what used to be a weakness in his game (outside shooting) into a strength. Opponents who used to beat the Bulls by forcing Michael to shoot from the outside had to find other ways to slow down the unstoppable Jordan. And even when Jordan had an off night, his new teammates picked up the slack and helped the Bulls win games.
However, the hot streak could not last forever and by late December the red hot Bulls had cooled off. Pippen suffered an injury and could not play with the same intensity as before. Jordan’s scoring also slumped and the Bulls suffered 5 straight losses going into the new year. Here, despite scoring 49 points, the Bulls lost to the Philadelphia 76er’s.
But Jordan was not about to let the slump stop the progress that the team had worked so hard to make. After back to back games of scoring under 20 points during the losing streak, Jordan turned up the intensity and scored 25 or more points in 19 straight games leading up to the all-star break. In addition to Michael’s improved scoring, coach Collins made several lineup changes that gave the Bulls a renewed sense of confidence, which got them back on the winning track.
By the time the Bulls entered the all-star break, they were back to winning basketball games and had achieved a record of 27-18, only 13 wins away from their win total the year before. The winning Bulls, along with the exciting Michael Jordan, gave the Chicago fans much to look forward to in the all-star game that was about to take place in their hometown Chicago Stadium.
NBA history is filled with stories of great partnerships. Magic and Kareem, Malone and Stockton, Shaq and Kobe. But above all those pairs, the 1987 Chicago Bulls now possessed perhaps the greatest duo of all time. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
Pippen was a relative unknown when he was drafted 5th overall by the Sonics. He had played in a small school in central Arkansas, and it wasn’t until after college was he noticed by NBA scouts. Once they saw him on the court, it was clear that this young man had the physical size, and athletic gifts to be successful in the NBA.
When he first joined the Bulls, Pippen was a soft spoken young man who had much to learn about the NBA. Lucky for him Bulls veterans like Charles Oakley were more than happy to teach the rookie a thing or two.
However, through hard work and learning from the best, Pippen quickly became an integral part of the Chicago Bulls. Before Pippen, opponents focused on stopping Michael Jordan as the key to winning against the Bulls. But with Pippen, opponents had no idea which man to cover. The Jordan Pippen duo would go on to dominate all opponents in the years to come.
Pippen went on to become one of the greatest players to have ever played in Chicago. He was voted as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest playersin 1996. His number 33 has since been retired from the Bulls.
Back in 1987, when Pippen was still a rookie and the Bulls still a nascent contender, no one knew what the long term prospects for the team was at the time, but there was a sense that something special was starting to happen.
3 seasons after entering the NBA, Michael Jordan had broken nearly every Bulls scoring record. He scored over 3000 points in a single season, scored 40+ points for 9 games straight, scored 23 points in a row, and scored a playoff record 63 points against the Celtics at the Boston Garden. But despite his spectacular performances, the Chicago Bulls still could not find a way to get past the first round of the playoffs. Clearly, Michael Jordan could not do it all alone, he needed some help. And luckily for Chicago, they had 2 first round picks in the 1987 NBA draft with which to change their fortunes.
The Bull’s first target was Scottie Pippen, a little known player from central Arkansas. Pippen was actually drafted by the Seattle Supersonics with the 5th overall pick. But Chicago quickly acquired Pippen in exchange for their first round pick Oden Polynice and future draft picks. This goes down IMO as one of the best trades in NBA history.
Here’s the video of Pippen being drafted. Interestingly, you can hear some boos as Pippen’s name is announced.
With Pippen securing the small forward position, the Bulls used their 10th pick in the draft to select power forward Horace Grant from Clemson. Grant provided Chicago with some much needed size down in the post.
Here’s Horace Grant being drafted
Chicago came out of the draft a much improved team. Bolstered by the two talented rookies, the Bulls now had a lineup that could match the top teams in the league. It was a good way to start what would turn out to be a memorable season.