The Boston Celtics were coming into Chicago on a six-game win streak; the Bulls were coming off a three-point road loss to the Bullets, with Michael Jordan “only” scoring 25 points on 10-of-23 shooting. It was a safe bet that MJ was going to step up big and go off in front of the sold-out Chicago crowd with Bird and McHale in town.
At the end of the first quarter, Jordan had 14 points and Larry Bird was held scoreless. At the end of the first half, Jordan had 23 points and the Bulls were up 61-46. Boston, mainly behind a season-high 33 from Kevin McHale, was able to take a slight scoring advantage in the second half but they still had no answer for Jordan, who scored 27 more points and finished with one of his four 50+ point performances of the season. He also had a game-high 9 assists and 5 steals to go with his 50 points.
Bird finished the game with just 19 points and 10 rebounds but this wasn’t the worst butt whooping Jordan gave him this season. At the end of the season, Jordan won his first MVP award and had 47 first-place votes compared to Bird’s 16. In case you were wondering, Magic Johnson finished third in the voting.
Jordan also became the first player in NBA history to win the scoring title and Defensive Player of the Year award in the same season.
THE BEST JORDAN VS BIRD MATCHUP IN 88
1988 was also the year EA and Milton Bradley gave us the amazing NES game ‘Jordan vs Bird: One on One’