Michael Jordan is almost unanimously considered the greatest player in the history of the game. However, every Superman has kryptonite and, sadly, The Black Cat wasn't an exception to that rule.
More specifically, it was the 'Bad Boys' Detroit Pistons the ones that made the best job trying to contain Jordan. There's a false narrative looming around claiming the Pistons neutralized him, and that's a blatant lie.
The Pistons established their 'Jordan Rules' to keep the Bulls from defeating them. Basically, they consisted of beating the living heart out of him once he drove to the paint, trying to force him left, preventing him from getting the ball, and attacking him on offense so he had to work twice as hard.
Jordan's Bulls were kind of sloppy during his early days in the league. It didn't take him long to become the NBA's most unstoppable scorer and lead them to the playoffs, but once they were forced to face top-notch defenses that could focus entirely on him, the rest of the team ran out of gas.
Eventually, they embraced and installed their triangle offense and they were finally able to get past Isiah Thomas and company. Jordan got his teammates involved, they got into a nice rhythm, and he didn't have to do it all for the Bulls. But, how effective The Jordan Rules actually were? Let's break it down with the stats Bleacher Report compiled:
1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals
The 1987-88 Chicago Bulls just weren't ready to face the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were savvier, stronger, meaner, and way more physical. Scottie Pippen was just entering the league and Jordan simply couldn't carry the burden of the entire offense throughout the series.
Still, he averaged 27.4 points per game on 49% from the floor and they handed the Pistons their only two losses of the playoffs. Jordan never scored under 23 points and even had a 36-point outing but Detroit beat them in five games.
Result: Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls 4-1
Michael Jordan's Stas: 27.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.6 blocks, 49.1 FG%
1989 Eastern Conference Finals
Back in the day, the Chicago Bulls were known for blowing up big leads and that's exactly what they did during this series. After clinching to a 2-1 advantage thanks to Jordan's heroic 46-point performance, they ended up losing three straight and were knocked off again by the same team.
Jordan struggled mightly in game 5 with just 18 points and wasn't exactly consistent for most of the series, although he managed to get his teammates involved more than the prior year. That infamous game 5 was the only time Jordan took fewer than 14 shots in the playoffs in his entire career.
Result: Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls 4-2
Michael Jordan's Stas: 29.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 46.0 FG%
1990 Eastern Conference Finals
The Pistons just seemed to have the Bulls' number. It seemed like there was just nothing they could do to get past them in the playoffs but in 1990, hope surfaced again. However, luck just wasn't on their side as Scottie Pippen suffered a huge migraine during Game 7 and they again turned into a one-man show.
Dennis Rodman's defensive excellence was at its peak during this series and it became the main reason why the rest of the Bulls were just non-factors. Jordan had games of 31, 42, and 47 during this series, but the Pistons got the best of them again.
Result: Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls 4-3
Michael Jordan's Stas: 32.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.6 blocks, 46.7 FG%
1991 Eastern Conference Finals
1991 was the time when Michael Jordan could finally end on top of his nemesis. The Chicago Bulls were as motivated as ever and just didn't stop fighting back to the hard-nosed, physical style of the Pistons. They were stronger than ever, both physically and mentally.
Scottie Pippen also broke out during the series to help Michael carry the load, but it was The Black Cat who dominated both ends of the court. The Bulls would end up sweeping the Pistons en route to the first of their three straight Championships to finally put an end to the anti-Jordan narrative.
Result: Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls 0-4
Michael Jordan's Stas: 29.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.8 blocks, 53.5% FG
At the end of the day, it's pretty clear that you could never stop Michael Jordan. You could just try and contain him and hope his teammates didn't step up. But if a team had some kind of success pulling that off, it was the Pistons.