No. 10 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 43 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 8 steals, 5 blocks
Game: 2/22/1987 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
While MJ continued his dominant scoring streak in this contest, what set this performance apart was his incredible lockdown defense. His staggering eight steals and five blocks can be partially attributed to his Air Jordan IIs—the high-top upper provided him with the stability he needed to slide all over the perimeter and intercept passes the entire game. Jordan's quickness also led to many of his blocks, as the 6’ 6” guard was always right in his man’s face and contesting every shot. The Cavs simply had no answer for Jordan’s effort, and as a result the Bulls ended up winning this close game.
No. 9 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 50 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks
Game: 11/1/1986 vs. New York Knicks
Opening night against the Knicks went about as well for Jordan as he could have hoped. Returning to the court with expectations at an all-time high following his transcendent playoff series against the Celtics the year before, MJ responded with an explosive performance thanks in part to his Air Jordan IIs. Despite the intimidating interior presence of Patrick Ewing and Bill Cartwright, Jordan fearlessly drove to the hoop time and again, knowing that the durable Italian leather upper of his sneakers would keep him protected from the defensive onslaught he would surely face. Even though he got fouled numerous times, it didn’t seem to bother him; he buried 20 of his 22 free throw attempts on the night.
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No. 8 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 35 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks
Game: 4/23/1987 vs. Boston Celtics
The stage was eerily similar to the previous season: Playoffs, Boston Garden against the Celtics, the Bulls relying on Jordan to pull a massive upset. While they didn’t win the game (or the series), it had little to do with MJ’s performance. Thanks to the comfort provided by the full length Air unit in his Air Jordan IIs, the superstar guard out of North Carolina kept his team in the game with repeated drives to the hoop against the older, slower Celtics’ defense. Despite the fact that all of the Celtics’ starters scored at least 16 points and the Celtics got out to a massive 66-47 halftime lead, Jordan led his team almost all the way back in a ferocious second half comeback attempt.
No. 7 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 50 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks
Game: 4/13/1987 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
It’s kind of funny to think of someone as scoring “only” 50 points, but when you do it smack in between a 53 and 61 point game, that’s exactly what you get. The Bulls needed every point of those 50, as thanks to his Air Jordan IIs MJ led a fourth quarter rally that gave the Bulls a hard-earned victory. Jordan was able to shine in the final period due to the durability of his shoes, as the light weight leather upper kept his legs fresh and allowed him to elevate for a number of huge dunks that iced the win.
No. 6 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 56 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 8 steals
Game: 3/25/1987 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
In a game marred by a number of testy exchanges between the two teams, Jordan helped his team to a narrow victory thanks to his Air Jordan IIs. The full length Air unit allowed him to elevate for a monster dunk-punctuating an 18-4 run that put the Bulls up for good late in the fourth quarter-and also helped him feel comfortable enough on defense to harass the 76ers’ guards into a combined 11 turnovers. While MJ himself was a bit sloppy with the ball (five of his seven turnovers came in the fourth quarter), his incredible offensive output more than made up for it.
No. 5 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 53 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks
Game: 4/12/1987 vs. Indiana Pacers
This game was a must-win for both teams; the loser was probably going to be facing the juggernaut defending champion Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, with the winner getting a better matchup against the Atlanta Hawks. Jordan obviously got the message, as he used the stability of his Air Jordan IIs to spot up all over the floor and shoot a ridiculous 70%, hitting 19 of his 27 shot attempts. His effort allowed the Bulls to claim a 21-point blowout victory, although they did ultimately end up facing the Celtics in the playoffs anyway.
No. 4 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 61 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block
Game: 4/16/1987 vs. Atlanta Hawks
Jordan’s highest scoring output of the year was 61 points, and he hit that mark for the second time that season in this matchup against the Hawks, one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. Able to pour on the points all night long thanks to the light weight and durable Italian leather upper of his Air Jordan IIs, Jordan set numerous records despite ultimately losing the game. On this night, he became just the second player in NBA history to score 3000 points in a season, the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to score 50 or more points in three straight games, and at one point scored 23 consecutive points for the Bulls.
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No. 3 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: Slam Dunk Contest Champion
Game: 2/7/1987 vs. Tom Chambers, Johnny Dawkins, Clyde Drexler, Ron Harper, Jerome Kersey, Terence Stansbury, and Gerald Wilkins
After falling short two years prior, Jordan arrived at the 1987 Slam Dunk Contest with a sense of purpose. While it certainly helped that Dominique Wilkins was absent due to injury, Jordan used the full length Air cushion in the heel to elevate above the rim and unleash an array of spectacular dunks to take home the title. His final dunk looked almost like he was flying through the air before he threw the ball down with a vicious windmill, although this dunk would become significantly less famous compared to his earlier dunk from the free throw line.
No. 2 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 61 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks
Game: 3/4/1987 vs. Detroit Pistons
The Bulls’ battle with the Pistons raged into overtime and Jordan set his team’s single-game scoring record as he led them to victory on the road in front of over 30,000 fans in Detroit. His Air Jordan IIs were instrumental in this performance, as the durable leather upper and light weight construction allowed Jordan to keep his legs healthy and fresh as he was continually harassed by stalwart Pistons guard Joe Dumars all night long. Jordan showed his penchant for strong finishes to games, as he scored a ridiculous 26 points in the fourth quarter and sent the game to overtime with a highly difficult jumper with just over 14 seconds to play.
No. 1 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 58 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Game: 2/26/1987 vs. New Jersey Nets
While it’s true the Nets were one of the NBA’s worst teams, Jordan was not going to take them lightly on this night as he rode his Air Jordan IIs to a then-Bulls record 58 point game. The story of the night was MJ getting it done at the free throw line, with the full length Air cushion in his shoes keeping him comfortable enough to hit 26 of his 27 attempts. He started off by hitting 19 in a row, missing his lone shot of the night on his 20th attempt and thus falling one short of the NBA record for one game.