Rare Footage: Michael Jordan Unleashed Full Repertoire During 1986 NBA Summer League

Published 12/14/2021, 3:30 PM EST
Utah Jazz’s John Stockton, left, and Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan fight for a rebound in the third quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Salt Lake City, Friday, June 5, 1998. The Bulls defeated the Jazz 93-88, tying the best-of seven series 1-1. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


In the summer of 1986, Michael Jordan was still a rookie with the Chicago Bulls. He had shown flashes of his talent and potential during the regular season, but no one knew what he was capable of until they saw him play in the NBA Summer League.

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Jordan completely dominated the league, averaging over 22.7 points per game in the 1985-1986 season. He displayed all aspects of his game, scoring with ease inside and out, making spectacular dunks, and even sinking clutch shots from long range.

The performance announced to the world that MJ was a superstar in the making who would be one of the greatest players ever.

Michael Jordan Has Another Side

Before he became a six-time NBA Finals champion, six-time MVP, and widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan was struggling to make it in his first few seasons. However, that didn’t stop him from unleashing an incredible performance during the 1986 Summer League. It left everyone surprised by just how good this “rookie” could be.

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The Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan with their third pick back in June 1984, yet his efforts were fruitful to earn an NBA Rookie of the Year in 1985. It was during this summer league that MJ showcased his full repertoire of skills and abilities. From his explosive dunks to his smooth jump shot everything was on display.

The 1986 NBA Summer League was therefore an important opportunity for him to prove himself on a bigger stage against some of the best players in the world. Playing alongside fellow Bulls teammates like Charles Oakley, Jawann Oldham, and Orlando Woolridge as well as other top players from around the league such as Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks) and John Lucas (Houston Rockets), MJ averaged 22.7 points per game over six games which earned him MVP honors for the summer league.

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This performance cemented MJ’s status as one of the best players in the world. The 1986 NBA Summer League was an important stepping stone for Michael Jordan. Moreover, it helped him reach new heights both individually and collectively as a player.

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VS Sharathprasad

52 articles

Sharathprasad is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Sharathprasad is a postgraduate in Mass Media Communications with a specialization in Print and New Media. He has been following NBA since 2012 and is an ardent fan of the LA Lakers.

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