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Michael Jordan Never Beat Larry Bird And Boston Celtics In The NBA Playoffs: 0-6

Michael Jordan Never Beat Larry Bird And Boston Celtics In The NBA Playoffs: 0-6

Michael Jordan and Larry Bird are two of the greatest players in NBA history and are the first names selected on the Mt. Rushmore of talent for most people. Jordan and Bird changed the game, bringing worldwide popularity to professional basketball at an extreme level and also dominating the court with incredible skill. While Jordan was a freak athlete with iconic hops, Bird was a slow and methodical shooter who knew how to win games.

But although Jordan was younger and more athletic than Bird in their matchups against each other, the Bulls legend never had a winning record. In fact, Jordan never beat Bird in the playoffs. While that is mainly because Jordan was young and without much help on his side, Bird took pleasure in beating down the young superstar on countless occasions. As a whole, the same can be said about their regular-season matchups. Here is how the face-offs went between two of the greatest players ever.

Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird In The NBA Playoffs: 0-6

Before Michael Jordan became the most dominant player in the league, he would have to endure beatdowns at the hands of Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. For 2 straight years, Jordan’s Bulls fell to Bird’s Celtics every time in the playoffs. The first of two happened in 1986 when Jordan was only 23 years old.

In 1986, Bird’s Celtics would sweep Jordan’s Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. Jordan barely got the Bulls into the playoffs as the 8th seed, and he had a tall task ahead of him in dealing with Bird and the #1 ranked Celtics. As expected, the Bulls had no chance.

Jordan was the best player on the floor averaging 43.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 5.7 APG but he only had Orlando Woolridge (21.0 PPG) as his sidekick. Bird (28.3 PPG) got plenty of help from Kevin McHale (28.3 PPG), Dennis Johnson (19.0 PPG), Danny Ainge (17.7 PPG), and Robert Parish (17.0 PPG). Obviously, the Bulls stood no chance and were dominated despite a legendary 63-point performance from Michael in Game 2.

A year later, a 24-year old Jordan was destined to run into Bird and the Celtics yet again. Unfortunately for Jordan, the result was the same. The Bulls were swept for the second straight year, despite 35.7 PPG by Jordan in the series. Bird (26.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG) once again had plenty of help with McHale, Ainge, and Johnson all contributing. Other than Charles Oakley (20.0 PPG and 15.3 RPG), Michael did not have enough to get past the #1 seed for the second time. Jordan would set a precedent that he was the best individual talent in the league, but he needed a crew to beat the dominant Celtics.

Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird Regular Season: 11-17

It is clear Michael Jordan was the best pure talent in the NBA by his rookie season because he was already showing flashes of brilliance at 21 years old. But having a superstar like Larry Bird in his prime had to teach Jordan some harsh lessons, some of which might have helped him become the greatest of all time. Jordan went head to head with Larry Bird on 28 separate occasions in the regular season, which constituted 9 years of iconic battles. Between 1984 and 1992, Jordan and Bird had a ton of chances to one-up each other in individual matchups.

But Jordan could never get the best of Bird over those 9 seasons, losing 17 out of 28 matchups despite putting up spectacular scoring numbers. The Bulls shooting guard would average 33.5 PPG over those meetings, while Bird would chip in 26.9 PPG and 8.6 RPG. It was clear that Jordan was a better individual scorer and athlete, but Bird used other areas of his game to get wins against the Bulls.

Putting up higher scoring numbers worked in 11 out of the 28 games, but it was clear the young shooting guard did not have enough talent on his team early on in his career. That helped the Celtics get wins against the Bulls in the regular season and in the playoffs. Of course, Jordan would get an All-Star Scottie Pippen to come into his own by 1990. Between 1990 and 1992, Jordan would have accumulated 7 wins against Bird, with 4 coming between 1984-1989.

It is clear Jordan needed All-Star help to overcome Bird, who simply had the guard’s number for the majority of the time. Those lessons might have certainly taught the future GOAT how to become a well-rounded superstar because as we know, Jordan would eventually end up a 6-time NBA champion and one of the greatest athletes in the history of professional sports.

Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird Stats

Michael Jordan Regular Season Statistics: 33.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.8 APG, 2.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Larry Bird Regular Season Statistics: 26.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG

Michael Jordan Playoff Statistics: 39.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.8 APG, 2.2 SPG, 1.8 BPG

Larry Bird Playoff Statistics: 27.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 8.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG


It can be safe to say that Michael Jordan won the battles against Bird, but Bird won the wars. Michael Jordan was still young and learning the ropes of the game while Larry Legend was arguably the best player in the game in his absolute prime. Jordan’s statistics are extraordinary (39.7 PPG in the playoffs!) and was a spectacular individual athlete, but Bird knew how to win on the biggest stage and benefitted from championship teams that were built around him. Not to mention, Bird normally usurped Jordan in other areas of the game including playmaking and rebounding.

Two of the greatest players ever, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan went head-to-head in spectacular fashion in legendary matchups during the regular season and playoffs. But Bird specifically had to endure the budding presence of the future GOAT to the point that he referred to Jordan as “God disguised as Michael Jordan”. That comment came after their meeting in the 1986 playoffs when Michael dropped 63 points and was literally unstoppable.

Both stars are two of the greatest players ever, and Jordan might have benefitted most from the losses to Larry Bird because he took his experiences to become the greatest player in NBA history. In many ways, Jordan might be happy to have seen Bird retire in 1992 because the GOAT would jokingly admit, “I’m tired of seeing your face. You brought a lot of sad memories for me. You ruined a lot of my successful games against the Boston Celtics.”


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