Michael Jordan could have been the Best point guard ever? Want Proof?
BEST POINT GUARD EVER?
I know most of you are automatically thinking this guy must be another Jordan homer who believes everything MJ touches is gold and everything from the 90s or earlier is better than anything now. Well, you are kind of right and Magic Johnson was my favorite player during the 80s so it’s seems even crazier that I would even entertain this question. Still, it’s hard for me to comprehend the numbers Michael Jordan put up in 1989 when Doug Collins experimented with him as the point guard for the Bulls.
The following information was put together by Starks23.
March 21, 1989
Doug Collins decided to move Jordan to the point guard spot against Seattle on March 11, 1989. He finished that game with 15 assists. Two days later, he had a game of 21/14/14 against the Pacers in just 30 minutes of playing time in a 32-point blowout win. He reached the triple double mark in just 21 minutes.
Jordan continued to play at the PG spot until the end of the season. In these 24 games he averaged 30.4 pts, 9.2 rebs, 10.7 asts & 2.4 stls. Between March 24 and April 14, 1989, he recorded a triple double in ten of the eleven games, including seven consecutive ones. In the game he didn’t record a TD, he finished with 40 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds.
In the featured game above, he had 16 assists against the Lakers and tied his career-high which was set in his rookie year – Three days later, on March 24, he set a new career-high with 17 assists at Portland.
In the first 3 quarters of this game he rarely shoots the ball. In the 4th, he scores 12 points and leads the Bulls to the victory.
Post game notes & quotes after Lakers vs Bulls Game
INGLEWOOD, CA — If there wasn’t already enough excitement with Michael Jordan in town, the Bulls wrote their own Hollywood ending Tuesday evening at The Forum.
The Bulls held Los Angeles without a field goal for 5:22 of the fourth quarter and then had to withstand a furious comeback attempt by the defending NBA champions en route to a 104-103 victory before a sellout crowd of 17,505.
Michael Jordan’s two free throws with 48 seconds remaining proved to be the winning points for the Bulls (38-26), who evened their record at 1-1 on their five-game road trip following last Saturday’s loss at Indiana.
The Bulls victory, coupled with Atlanta’s loss to Detoit, leaves them tied with the Hawks for fourth place overall in the Eastern Division.
The Lakers (45-20) had several chances to avoid their second straight loss at home and fifth overall following Jordan’s free throws. But Magic Johnson, the league’s second-best free throw shooter, missed one of two attempts with 37 seconds left and following a missed shot by Craig Hodges, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook attempt was short with one second left.
Riley’s first option was Worthy, but he wasn’t open, so Magic and Abdul-Jabbar worked Jordan and Cartwright on the right of the lane. With the clock winding down, Abdul-Jabbar got the ball, but Cartwright had shoved him about three feet farther out than the Lakers’ center would have liked. His 18-foot sky hook bounded away.
“I did get him a little more away from the basket, but he has made that shot a million times over the years,” Cartwright said. “Considering that he missed the shot, I’d say I played good defense.”
Abdul-Jabbar said his final shot “felt pretty good. I was out far — I got pushed out that far. I didn’t have time to get better position.”
“The game . . . this was a great win for us tonight,” Bulls coach Doug Collins said. “Because we start such an unbelievable road trip. The defense in the second half was superb. This was the first time we have beaten a good club on the road in a long time. That is why this is such a big win for us.”
Starting his sixth game as point guard — the Bulls are 4-2 in those games — Michael Jordan had 10 first-half assists and wound up tying his career high with 16. The Bulls star had double figures in assists in five of six games as the point guard.
“Jordan had an excellent game,” said Chicago coach Doug Collins. “People don’t realize how good his defense is. He makes everyone around him play better.”
“I am totally mystified with our fourth quarters,” Lakers coach Pat Riley said. “A pattern is developing that I don’t like. We’re just not getting the job done.”
The following is a 1989 article about Jordan playing point.
Bulls’ Jordan Makes a New Point
by Gerry Fraley, Atlanta Journal and Constitution. April 9, 1989
Michael Jordan now plays point guard, which means the Chicago Bulls give the ball more often to the NBA’s most productive offensive player.
How does that strike the rest of the NBA?
“I don’t like it,” Atlanta Hawks guard Doc Rivers said. “I think it’s terrible. It’s not fair.”
“He was a nightmare already,” Hawks coach Mike Fratello said. “Now, he gets the ball even more.”
“Everybody wonders why they didn’t do it before,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said.
Chicago general manager Jerry Krause found some humor in his team’s switch of Jordan from the shooting guard position.
“It’s like the old joke about the 2,000-pound gorilla,” Krause said. “Where does he sleep? Anywhere he wants. Great players can play different positions.”
No other NBA player has made a change of more league-altering significance. Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson played center against Philadelphia in the 1980 NBA Finals, but that lasted only one game. In just 16 games at point guard, Jordan has gone from the league’s leading scorer the last two seasons to being lumped with Johnson, John Stockton of Utah and Isiah Thomas of Detroit as the elite among NBA point guards. Jordan may already be the best of the group.
Entering today’s 12:35 p.m. game against the Hawks at The Omni, Jordan has seven triple-doubles (double-figure totals in scoring, rebounding and assists) in the last eight games. His streak of seven consecutive triple-doubles ended Friday in a 114-112 overtime loss to Detroit in which Jordan finished with 40 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Before Jordan’s run, the most consecutive triple-doubles in the league this season was two, by Johnson and Portland’s Clyde Drexler.
Since Oscar Robertson, who averaged double-figure totals in each category over a full season for his first six years in the league, Johnson has the most triple-doubles in a season with 18. Jordan already has 11 triple-doubles while learning the new position.
“Everybody has to watch him with the ball,” Drexler said. “The other guys are free to roam, and their shooting percentages are going to soar. I think (Jordan) handles the ball better than Magic. (Jordan) just makes everybody else better. When he gets used to that position . . . “
The significance of the move can be better measured by the tremors it has sent through the league. Many things have changed.
Jordan has changed the Bulls. They are 11-5 since the switch and have created a three-way race with the Hawks and Milwaukee for the fourth playoff spot – and homecourt advantage in the first round – in the Eastern Conference.
Jordan has changed the playoff outlook. In four seasons with him at shooting guard, the Bulls are 5-15 in the playoffs and have advanced past the first round just once. They wilted at playoff time because of too much reliance on Jordan and limited contributions elsewhere.
Having Jordan as a point guard “certainly makes them a better team,” Knicks coach Rick Pitino said. In the playoffs, when the point guard takes pre-eminence, there is “no doubt about them being a force,” Pitino said.
The move was born of frustration.
“It’s a challenge, and that basically is what Michael Jordan is all about,” Jordan said. “I’ve been bothered for some time about the Bulls being a one-dimensional team, a Michael Jordan team. The thing I’ve been harping about all year has come true. The other guys are getting into the game. They now believe in themselves, and that’s what we needed.
“For the most part, I’m starting to like it. I never dreamed I’d play that position – me, a lifelong (shooting) guard. But it helps. I can call my own plays and get everyone else involved in the offense.”
The passive reactions of teammates triggered the change. In each of the last two seasons, Jordan outscored the Bulls’ second-leading scorer by an average of 22.6 points. Only one other player in NBA history, Wilt Chamberlain, had a greater margin over his team’s runner-up in scoring.
Given the Bulls’ obvious dependence on Jordan, opponents designed defenses to wear him down. The muggings were pronounced in the fourth quarter, when the Bulls’ offense was designed to get the ball to Jordan and get out of the way. Playing one-on-five too often, the Bulls languished in fifth place, and Jordan chafed under the growing label of scorer but not winner.
Jordan, whose unhappiness at a lack of help in the offense was well known, buckled under the demands. On March 8, his consecutive-game streak ended at 235 because of a pulled groin muscle. Jordan’s psyche was of more concern to the Bulls. The next day, coach Doug Collins met with a depressed Jordan for two hours to hash out the situation.
The resolution: Jordan would change to point guard to replace the injured Sam Vincent.
The purpose: Jordan would become the creator and therefore force the rest of the team to become more involved on offense.
The benefit: The Bulls’ best player would handle the ball more often but be spared some of the dirty work that was wearing him down.
Jordan tried point guard briefly in the exhibition season but did not like it. This time, frustration moved him to accept a major change.
“Doug, in talking with Michael and the staff, thought this was the right time to fool with it,” Krause said. “The move has definitely helped us in many, many ways. It’s gotten Michael into more of a leadership position, which we talked about with him for a long time. It’s hard to lead when you’re a (shooting) guard. When you’re the (point) guard, leadership is easier.
“Michael gets a big kick out of getting our players more involved. He likes the position now, and that’s a big factor. He’s enjoying himself and having a lot more fun.”
The fun comes from having less pain. For shooting guards, the body goes first because of the hammering that goes with the position. At 6- feet-6 and 195 pounds, the slender Jordan is under-equipped for that part of the game. The physical demands combined with a league-leading total in minutes last season and this season were draining Jordan.
For point guards, the legs are more important than the body. Jordan “can run all day,” Rivers said, and it is much harder to hit a moving target in the open court.
Less physical pounding leaves Jordan fresher at the end, when the Bulls still ask him to do much. The difference now is Jordan has more energy for the final charge.
“The beauty of Michael Jordan at point guard is he can walk through the whole game and save himself for the fourth quarter,” Nelson said. “Then, he can turn it on or wait on any one point when he feels it’s necessary.”
Jordan has brought young forwards Horace Grant, who complained in February about not getting enough shots, and Scottie Pippen into the offense. With Jordan at point guard, Grant has averaged 11.5 shots and 14.7 points per game while Pippen has averaged 14.5 shots and 19.8 points per game. In the previous alignment, Grant averaged 9.3 shots and 11.5 points and Pippen averaged 12 shots and 13 points.
“So many people key on Michael that you’re usually going to have one or two guys open all the time,” Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins said. “It makes them that much more effective. It depends on how the other players respond to it, and they’ve responded very well.”
Jordan’s response was also vital to the change. While a shooting guard, he had proven he could perform the essentials of point-guard play: passing, defense and sound judgment. The uncertainty was how Jordan would handle a small decrease in scoring chances.
He still leads the league in scoring, but his average has dropped from 34.2 at the All-Star break to 32.3. Jordan has also taken about four fewer shots a game.
“What he’s done is an incredible sacrifice,” said Rivers, who plays both guard spots. “He was already carrying the team. To sacrifice shots and points, I’ve never seen a sacrifice like that. It’s just incredible. That tells you how much he wants to win. He doesn’t care who does it. He just wants to win.”