The NBA playoffs are in full swing. 16 teams are all battling their way through the first round to try to eventually claim the title. Will Lebron and the Cavaliers repeat? Are Golden State Warriors going to steal their crown back? Do the Toronto Raptors have it in them to take that next step?
One series happening right now has the Boston Celtics playing the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics had the best record in the Eastern Conference this season, but the Bulls have shocked them by winning the first two games in Boston. What drama! It doesn't hurt that these two teams have been great rivals for so long. In fact, 31 years ago, they were at the centre of one of the greatest NBA playoff games ever played. It was the night that Michael Jordan set the record for most points in a playoff game: 63.
The greatest ever team versus the greatest ever player
Today, Michael Jordan is known as probably the greatest basketball player to have ever lived (even LeBron James wouldn't argue). He was the league scoring champion 10 times and won 6 NBA titles with the Bulls. But in 1986, he was just a 23 year-old player on an okay team. Meanwhile, the 1986 Boston Celtics were one of the best NBA teams ever assembled.
Legends Danny Ainge, Bill Walton, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, and Robert "The Chief" Parrish were all on this amazing team. And then there was Larry Bird. Along with Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers, Bird was the best player alive (he would win his third league MVP award that year).
The Celtics themselves would win the NBA title that year, as well as that April 20th game, 135-131 in double overtime. But that didn't stop Jordan from warning everyone that he was going to take Bird and Johnson's place in the near future. Playing in Boston, he scored an unreal 63 points against the league's best. Even a master like Bird was amazed.
"We couldn’t stop him," he told NBA.com years after the historic match. "You were talking about a different type of talent."
Watch Michael Jordan stun the Celtics crowd for yourself in this video.