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On this day, 1989: Michael Jordan pulverizes LA Clippers single-handedly with spectacular 41-point triple-double

Michael Jordan recorded 10 triple-doubles in a 11-game stretch
Michael Jordan recorded 10 triple-doubles in a 11-game stretch
Akhil Khatri
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On this day 32 years ago, Michael Jordan made history for the Chicago Bulls. On Jan. 3, 1989, the Bulls hosted the LA Clippers in an East versus West matchup. Jordan, at age 25, was making a name for himself with his elite gameplay.

In the game, Jordan recorded his first 40-point triple-double, with 41 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. The effort was also a record for Chicago as it was the first 40-point triple-double in franchise history.

📅 On this day in 1989, the @chicagobulls Michael Jordan had 41 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in a win over the Clippers.Jordan became the first player in franchise history to record a 40-point triple-double. He remains the only player in franchise history to do so (3x). https://t.co/pMIszVCdf4

The Clippers were a handful themselves, with Danny Manning, Ken Norman and Quintin Dailey logging a combined 82 points. But Jordan single-handedly powered the Bulls’ offensive output. He made 15 of his 30 shots, drawing plenty of fouls along the way. Jordan was 11 of 15 from the free-throw line. On defense, Jordan forced six turnovers by stealing the ball.

The game was tied after regulation time. Joe Wolf of the LA Clippers wasted a chance in overtime by traveling with four seconds left. Jordan and the Chicago Bulls outscored the LA Clippers 15-10 to win.

Michael Jordan commiserated with his former University of North Carolina teammate, saying:

“He traveled. I hate to see a North Carolina man travel, but he traveled. It gave us a break.”

Scottie Pippen of the Bulls had his own triple-double as well. He scored 15 points in 42 minutes, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 12 assists, giving Jordan the freedom to explode.

Jordan’s triple-doubles did not stop with the 126-121 win against the Clippers. He went on to log 14 more of them throughout the 1988-89 season.

Michael Jordan at point guard during the 1988-89 season

On March 11, 1989, Michael Jordan played his first game as a point guard, logging 18 points, eight rebounds and 15 assists against the Seattle SuperSonics. This was a result of Jordan expressing frustration over then-point guard Sam Vincent’s struggles. In an experiment, the Bulls decided to see how Jordan’s skills could come in handy at the one.

During the 1988-89 season, Michael Jordan was moved to the point guard position as an experiment.MJ went on to record a triple-double in 10 of the 11 games he played at the position.He averaged a 33.6 points, 11.4 assists and 10.8 rebounds. https://t.co/5HGzL9rUh4

Two days later, Jordan recorded 21 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists in a 32-point win against the Indiana Pacers. Six games later, when Jordan faced off against Seattle again and had another big night. He recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in 40 minutes to give the Bulls a one-point victory.

The game marked the start of an 11-game run in which Jordan logged a triple-double in 10 of them, the longest streak being seven games. Over that stretch, Jordan averaged 33.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 11.4 assists. However, the Bulls won only five of those games.

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The Chicago Bulls (47-35) finished sixth in the Eastern Conference. After defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks in the playoffs, Chicago went up against the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals. The Pistons had a method called “Jordan Rules,” which meant double- and triple-teaming Jordan. The strategy worked well as they won the physical series in six games.


Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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