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This Day in Sports: A big day in Air Jordan's ascent

1985: There is no dispute that superstardom has arrived as Michael Jordan accepts some NBA hardware.
Credit: AP File Photo
Chicago Bulls rookie Michael Jordan goes after a loose ball with the New Jersey Nets' Micheal Ray Richardson during an NBA game in East Rutherford, N.J., Jan. 16, 1985.

BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 16, 1985:

A hint of things to come, as the Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan is named NBA Rookie of the Year. After coming out of North Carolina following his junior year, Jordan was an instant sensation, landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated a month into his career under the headline, “A Star Is Born.” He averaged 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists in his first season. It was then that M.J. also began his legacy as one of the NBA’s best defensive players.

Jordan had been the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft behind Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets and Sam Bowie of the Portland Trail Blazers. The selection of Olajuwon was understandable, and he had a solid NBA career. But nobody will ever understand the Blazers choosing Bowie over Jordan. Portland general manager Stu Inman intimated that he preferred Bowie because the Blazers already had Clyde Drexler. In the years since, Portland’s choice of Bowie has been called the worst decision in the history of the NBA Draft.

The 1985-86 campaign saw Jordan break his foot in the third game of the season and miss 64 games. But he returned late in the season and helped the Bulls reach the NBA Playoffs. It was there that Jordan scored 63 points in a first round game against the Boston Celtics, still the most in NBA postseason history. A healthy Jordan scored and scored some more from that point forward, leading the league in scoring for seven consecutive years (through his first retirement in 1993).

Phil Jackson arrived in Chicago in 1990, and the rest is history. The following season, Jordan’s seventh with the Bulls, he finally won his first NBA title. Jordan would go on to win six championships with Chicago in two sets of three-peats (interrupted by a two-year retirement and a foray into pro baseball). He was MVP of the NBA Finals all six times. You want to talk about the GOAT? Full stop.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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