As Michael Jordan turns 59 years old today, it is only fitting to celebrate the greatest player of all time. The Chicago Bulls star accomplished almost everything in the game of professional basketball and might be the most influential figure in American sports. A global icon and the most widely-known athlete in the world, Michael Jordan truly changed the game when it comes to winning at the highest level.
It is time to revisit some of the incredible accomplishments that Michael Jordan had in his illustrious career as a member of the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. We saw some incredible talents since Michael Jordan including Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James; but none of them came close to what The GOAT did on the basketball. Without further ado, here are 10 unbelievable statistics and achievements that MJ had in his career.
10. One Of Three Players To Lead The League In Scoring And Steals
Michael Jordan was the first player in NBA history to lead the NBA in scoring and steals, a testament to his greatness as an elite two-way player. Standing 6’6” with inhuman athleticism, Michael Jordan simply dominated both ends of the court at an elite level.
Since Jordan did it a whopping 3 times in 1988, 1990, and 1993; only Allen Iverson (2005) and James Harden (2020) were able to accomplish this. Michael was a sensational scorer, and his accolades in that regard are well-documented. But the shooting guard was also adept at stealing the ball, averaging a career 2.3 SPG with a career-high 3.2 SPG coming in 1988.
9. Averaging 37.1 PPG In The 1987 Season
Michael Jordan was an elite scorer, and his 37.1 PPG average put forth in the 1987 season is the 5th highest in NBA history by any player. The GOAT is behind Wilt Chamberlain, who holds the top-4 spots as the most physically dominant player ever.
It is truly amazing how a shooting guard could average 37.1 PPG because even James Harden’s incredible season in 2019 fell short (36.1 PPG). It remains very likely that a modern player will not be able to pass Jordan’s 37.1 PPG, and he should remain in the top-5 in that category forever.
8. Leading The League In Scoring And Winning Defensive Player Of The Year
Michael Jordan’s year in 1988 could be one of the greatest ever because we saw a shooting guard singlehandedly take over the league without being stopped. The GOAT averaged 35.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 3.2 SPG, and 1.6 BPG for the Chicago Bulls in his 4th straight All-Star season in his 4th season as a pro.
Jordan dominated his matchups, stealing the ball and blocking shots while shutting everyone down. Quite frankly, Jordan might be the greatest defensive guard ever because he had the athleticism and physical tools including his massive hands to own his matchups. Offensively, Michael was also unstoppable as he dropped 35.0 PPG.
7. Highest Career PPG Average In NBA History
In terms of career PPG, no player is ahead of Michael Jordan. His 30.12 PPG average ranks number one all-time, even ahead of Wilt Chamberlain (30.07) who holds the records for most points in a game (100) and PPG for a season (50.4). It was almost impossible for Wilt to be passed, but Jordan somehow did it.
Michael’s scoring is well-documented, and we have not seen a more complete offensive player since the Bulls guard did it in his prime. A perimeter scorer with unstoppable ability in rim drives, Jordan had everything when it came to getting buckets. It was only fitting that Jordan is the greatest scorer in NBA history, and his scoring average will likely never be broken.
6. Most PPG In Finals Series History
Michael Jordan once averaged 41.0 PPG during the 1993 NBA Finals series against the Phoenix Suns in 1993. Especially during Games 3,4, and 5; Jordan dropped 44, 55, and 41 points in a run that ultimately gave the Bulls the steam to win the series. There was little doubt as to which player was deciding the outcome of the series, and his 41.0 PPG scoring average has stood the test of time.
Not to mention, his overall stat line at the end of the series was even more impressive. He played 45.7 minutes per game, scored 41.0 points a game, grabbed 8.5 rebounds, and dished out 6.3 assists. We have seen some dominant Finals performances including the ones put forward by Dwyane Wade in 2006 and LeBron James in 2016, but Jordan’s Finals series in 1993 was the greatest.
5. A Magical Rookie Season
As soon as Michael Jordan arrived in the NBA, his value as a superstar player became immediately known. The shooting guard immediately put the world on notice, averaging 28.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, and 2.4 SPG on 51.5% shooting. He ran away with Rookie of the Year in his first season, dominating all aspects of the court. To many pundits studying the game at the time, Jordan was already the best player in the league.
Even more impressively, Jordan made the All-Star Team in his rookie season while leading an average Bulls squad to the playoffs. It was truly amazing how dominant Jordan was as a 21-year-old, and he had some incredible accolades to put the icing on the cake. Jordan became the only rookie in NBA history to lead a team in four statistics (points, assists, rebounds, steals).
4. A Whopping 10 Scoring Titles
We already alluded to Michael Jordan’s elite offensive skills, but Jordan is the only player in NBA history to have more than 7 scoring titles. In fact, MJ finished his career with 10 scoring titles over 10 full seasons. Jordan has an unlimited highlight-reel of unstoppable offensive moves, but his go-to moves have stood the test of time. For one, his mid-range fadeaway shot is the best ever with the likes of Kobe Bryant mimicking it.
But Jordan also got it done from the free-throw line, often drawing fouls when he burst to the rim. Over his career, Michael shot 83.5% from the line, above-average numbers for a player that got to the line at least 4 times per game. But Michael also had an array of layup packages and in-traffic shots around the rim that are constantly shown in historical clips. Simply, Michael Jordan is the greatest scorer of all time and his 10 scoring titles will be an unbreakable record.
3. 6 Championships, 6 Finals MVPs, 5 MVPs
Jordan finished his career with an incredible list of 18 major accolades: 10 scoring titles, 1 Defensive Player of the Year, 6 championships, 6 Finals MVPs, and 5 MVPs. We already went over how incredible his 10 scoring titles and the Defensive Player of the Year award were, but there is no doubt Jordan was the best player in the game during his prime. Jordan “only” won 5 MVP awards in his career, and there is debate about whether he deserved the 1997 MVP award.
But Jordan also won 6 NBA championships with 6 Finals MVPs, an incredible achievement that has not been repeated until now. MJ’s MVP accolades are undeniably great because it proved once and for all who the best player was in the regular season and the playoffs. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won more MVP awards than Jordan, and no player has at least 6 Finals MVPs to their name.
2. Completing 2 Separate 3-Peats With Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest winner in NBA history, and has even been labeled an “obsessed winner”. The GOAT is the only player in NBA history to complete 2 separate 3-peats in his career because it is obvious that Michael formed the most dominant team in NBA history.
If it wasn’t for Jordan’s retirement in 1994 and his 17-game season in 1995, many pundits believe that Michael would have won an incredible 8 straight NBA championships. Nonetheless, 6 NBA titles through 2 separate 3-peats is an incredible achievement for the best player ever on the best team ever.
1. 6-0 In NBA Finals
To celebrate Michael Jordan’s birthday, we have to celebrate the greatest part of his career as a basketball phenom: winning. No superstar ever was able to go undefeated in the Finals with 6 Finals MVPs, meaning Jordan killed off his opponents before they had a chance to survive. Remember, Jordan’s Bulls never played in a Game 7 in the Finals.
Only 4 players had a better Finals record than Jordan; Robert Horry (7-0), Tom Sanders (8-0), John Havlicek (8-0), and KC Jones (8-0). But none of these players came close to Jordan as a star player, and only Havlicek captured a Finals MVP (only 1 during the 1974 Finals). If a player goes undefeated in the Finals without ever playing in a Game 7 while also winning 6 Finals MVPs, is it safe to assume that he is the greatest ever? The answer is yes. As the greatest winner in NBA history with the most major accolades, Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time and it isn’t very close.