|MICHAEL JORDAN, 1986|
“I was scared to death,” Krause explained. “I didn’t want to go down in history as the guy who put Michael Jordan back in too soon.” Meanwhile, Jordan kept begging coach Stan Albeck to let him play more. “I didn’t want to watch my team go down the pits,” he said. “I thought I was healthy enough to contribute something.”
In the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics, Jordan contributed something. He scored 49 points in Game 1, but the Bulls lost 123-104. In Game 2, he sank two free throws (his 53rd and 54th points of the game) to send the game into overtime. Then he scored seven more points in overtime, including a three-point play that gave the Bulls a 125-121 lead with 1:39 left. Two baskets by Boston forced a second overtime. Late in the second session, Jordan dunked over Robert Parish—giving him 63 points for the game, a new playoff record, and tying the game yet again. But despite his heroics, the Celtics finally prevailed 135-131.
Jordan had scored 104 points in two games against a team that was being touted as the best of all time. “I didn’t think anyone was capable of doing what Michael has done to us the past two games,” said Boston forward Larry Bird, who was soon to receive the Most Valuable Player award for the third consecutive year. “He is the most exciting, awesome player in the game today. I think it’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
The Celtics swept the best-of-five series in three straight, despite Jordan's 131 points (43.7 per game), and went on to take the championship. Jordan and the Bulls would be heard from again in the near future.
Excerpted from Heydays: Great Stories in Chicago Sports
(c) by Christopher Tabbert