Michael Jordan is considered by many as the greatest basketball player ever. But while most of our memories of Michael Jordan are about his accomplishments and big games in Chicago, even the great ones have their low moments.
Jordan was no exception. While His Airness was one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the NBA and he led the NBA in scoring in 10 seasons, there were games when he didn’t shoot the ball well. There were games where he shot poorly and committed many errors. He may be the GOAT but he is still only human.
Let’s take a look at the worst games of Michael Jordan’s career with the Chicago Bulls:
Bulls vs Knicks, March 14, 1985
Michael Jordan took the NBA by storm during his rookie season. MJ dazzled crowds with his breathtaking moves and rim-rattling dunks but on this night, Jordan put on one of his worst performances not just at Madison Square Garden but of his entire NBA career.
MJ finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 8 assists but he shot just 5-18 from the field and 6-11 in from the free-throw line in one of the worst shooting nights of his legendary career. The Bulls lost the lowly Knicks 97-106 in one of Michael Jordan’s worst games with the Chicago Bulls.
1989 Eastern Conference Semifinals, May 11, 1989
His Airness was a big-time playoff performer. However, in Game 2 of the 1898 Eastern Conference Semifinals, MJ scored a playoff career-low of 15 points. Jordan shot just 7-17 from the field, 0-2 from the three-point area, and 1-4 from the free-throw line as the New York Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 114-97 to tie the series at one game apiece.
Jordan was coming off a hot 11-17 shooting game where he scored 34 points as the Bulls stole Game 1 at Madison Square Garden. However, he sputtered in Game 2 and Chicago was blown out by Patrick Ewing’s Knicks. The Bulls though, won three of the next four games of the series to eliminate the Knicks 4-2 and advance to the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals.
Bulls vs Sixers, April 1, 1995
This was Michael Jordan’s 7th game back from retirement and he was wearing the #45 jersey here. Jordan scored only 12 points on 5-19 shooting. He was 1-4 from the free-throw line but added four rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block to his stat line.
Chicago still won the game 91-84 behind Scottie Pippen, B.J. Armstrong, and Toni Kukoc who combined for 50 points. You could say that Jordan still had the cobwebs here but remember that four days earlier, he dropped the double-nickel game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Could this be an April Fool’s game by MJ? Maybe.
Bulls vs Pistons, December 8, 1988
The Detroit Pistons were the best Central Division team from 1988-1990 and they made three straight trips to the NBA Finals during that period, winning back to back titles in 1989 and 1990. To cut the story short, Detroit was the team that prevented the Bulls from advancing to the NBA Finals and the Bad Boys always gave Michael Jordan a tough time. This was no exception.
Detroit’s physical defense limited the league’s best scorer to only four made field goals in 40 minutes of playing time. Jordan would finish the game with 18 points on 4-16 shooting. MJ made 10 out of 11 free throws, grabbed seven rebounds, and issued seven assists. The Bad Boys won the game though, 102-89.
Bulls vs Pacers, December 26, 1987
This wasn’t even Miller Time yet as Reggie Miller was still coming off the bench for the Pacers here. This was an Indiana team led by Vern Fleming, Herb Williams, and Chuck Person. Michael Jordan’s Bulls were 15-11 at this point while the Pacers were 13-12. However, Indiana was at home and they ambushed the Bulls.
This was the day after Christmas so maybe MJ was in a giving mood. He shot just 6-22 from the field or 27.3% while scoring only 17 points as the Pacers knocked off the Bulls 106-92 in one of Michael Jordan’s worst games with the Chicago Bulls.
Bulls vs Bullets, March 14, 1987
Michael Jordan’s second-lowest scoring game of 1987 came against the Washington Bullets on March 14, 1987. The Bulls are Bullets were having almost identical seasons with Chicago at 32-31 and Washington 33-29 when this game was played.
The Bulls rallied from a seven-point third-quarter deficit to force overtime but the Bullets survived and won the game 106-105. Of course, they got a lot of help from MJ who put up 13 points on 5-20 shooting with a game-high seven turnovers.
Bulls vs Hawks March 15, 1997
The Chicago Bulls won this game by a mile but this stands as Michael Jordan’s second-lowest scoring game as a Chicago Bull. The Bulls won the game 99-79 but Jordan finished with only 10 points, 4, rebounds, and 3 assists. I’m not sure what really went wrong here because MJ shot 45.4% from the field but he only took a total of 11 shots here.
What was even more interesting was that Jordan took only one three-pointer and he missed it and he never made it to the free-throw line during the entire game. But who cares? The Bulls blew out the Hawks here.
Bulls vs Pistons, April 15, 1998
This was way after the Bad Boys era but still, MJ had a tough game against his old rivals in the Detroit Pistons at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan. But perhaps the Bulls had stepped on the breaks already because they were already 60-20 at this point and were looking ahead at the playoffs already. Still, Jordan’s atrocious shooting here was tough to watch.
The Bulls scored only 79 points in a losing effort and Jordan went 7-25 from the floor, 0-3 from behind the arc, and 5-10 from the foul line. He would finish the game with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in 43 minutes of game action.
1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals
The Orlando Magic ascended in 1995 behind Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, and former Bulls’ forward Horace Grant. They would face the Bulls in round two of the playoffs and Game 1, the Magic set the tone for the series with a 94-91 victory.
This was without doubt Jordan’s worst playoff game ever as he had eight turnovers and shot just 8-22 from the field. He would score 19 points in this game but with the Bulls down by three points in the final seconds, Jordan lost the ball to Nick Anderson and the Magic emerged victorious.
Bulls vs Raptors, March 27, 1997
March 1997 was a bad month for Michael Jordan. 12 days after scoring 10 points against the Hawks, he put up 12 points in 41 minutes against the Toronto Raptors. But then again, the Bulls won this game 96-81 and they had a 61-9 record here so who cares?
MJ shot just 5-17 from the floor and he committed a game-high six turnovers. Good thing for Chicago was Luc Longley had a big game with 16 points and the Bulls outplayed the Raptors in the first three quarters.
Bulls vs Bucks, December 13, 1986
Michael Jordan batted .202 as a Double-A outfielder but he shot worse in this game. MJ scored 11 points while shooting 17.6% from the field. He was 3-17 from the field, easily one of his worst shooting nights ever. The Bulls would get blown out by the Bucks 113-90 in Chicago.
The Bucks were led by Paul Pressey, Jack Sickma, and Ricky Pierce. Of course, I don’t expect you to know these names. But I will never forget this game as Jordan made only three field goals in this game.
Bulls vs Cavaliers, March 22, 1986
Michael Jordan had so many big games against the Cleveland Cavaliers but he also delivered his worst game against the Cleveland franchise. Jordan scored in double figures in all but one of his 930 career games in Chicago. This was the game.
MJ played only 16 minutes in this game and he shot a horrible 4-13 from the floor. He missed his only free throw attempt, had only one rebound, and only one assist as the Cavaliers annihilated the Bulls 123-97 in a game between two of the worst teams in the league that season.