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❗Duel of Basketball LEGENDS❗ MJ & BIRD are scoring at will (71 POINTS COMBINED) ▪ 1987 1st R, GAME 2


There are layers to individual greatness in the NBA, especially for those youngsters trying to make a name for themselves early in their careers. It starts by dominating the bad teams in the regular season. Then you try to take on superstars around the league, also in the regular season format. After that, you move onto the playoffs, where there are still usually one or two subpar teams (relatively speaking of course) to beat up on before moving onto the final challenge: Going toe-to-toe with the best of the best on some of the most competitive stages in basketball. If you can do that and come out the other side, you’ve proven to everyone watching that you are a special talent and a force to be reckoned with.
It didn’t take long for Michael Jordan to stake his claim as a superstar both in the present and moving forward after entering the league in 1984. He averaged nearly 30 points in his very first playoff series. The following year, he set the all-time single-game playoff scoring record against Larry Bird and the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics, widely-regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time led by one of the NBA’s best ever. So, when the Bulls and Celtics linked up the following year in the first round of the postseason, it wasn’t exactly a surprise when MJ put up a game-high 42 points in Game 2. Even at such a young age, that kind of production was just expected from him, even against a team as vaunted as the Celtics during the dynasty years of the 1980s. It didn’t matter that Boston was the reigning NBA champions in 1987 or that Bird was coming off a string of three consecutive MVP awards. Jordan really just didn’t care. He wasn’t intimated by any of it. Not only was he already skilled enough, a pursuit to become the greatest basketball player of all time didn’t leave any room for fear. Sure, the Bulls lost that game and eventually the series in a quick three-game sweep at the hands of the Celtics for the second year in a row. But with Jordan continuing to fill up the scoring column at an unprecedented rate, everyone knew that it was only a matter of time before he would leapfrog those he measured himself against.




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