Michael Jordan was in his third season when he crafted his string of 40 games with at least 25 points.
His Chicago Bulls were an up-and-coming power that had yet to acquire the additional weapons that would eventually lead to six NBA championships.
They needed Jordan’s scoring brilliance during the 1986-87 season just to have a chance.
Chicago’s second and third leading scorers were a 23-year-old Charles Oakley and a 26-year-old John Paxson. Neither averaged more than 14.5 points, and no other Bull averaged double figures.
So Jordan picked up the slack.
He averaged a career-high 37.1 points. Took a career-high 27.8 shots. Played 40 minutes a night.
Those are a few of the differences between Jordan then and Kevin Durant’s run now.
But the biggest difference is seen in Durant’s superior perimeter shooting. Jordan had yet to develop a reliable 3-point shot during that 1986-87 season. He made just 12 of 66 3-pointers that year. That’s roughly the equivalent of 11 games for Durant.
Jordan relied much more on attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line. He averaged a career-high 11.9 foul shots that season, or 1.9 more than Durant this year.
With little help, however, Jordan led the Bulls to a 40-42 record that season. Chicago lost in three-game, first-round sweep to Boston.
By Darnell Mayberry