Everybody has an off day. Nobody can control all of the moving pieces that constitute any life at all, let alone a life at (literally) the top of your game. Traffic makes you late for the big meeting. Premature labor, and the hospital bag isn’t even packed yet. Never mind “coming down with a bug, didn’t sleep well, my kids are all throwing up –” You know. Life. It happens to all of us. Even — dare we say it? — Michael Jordan.
Arguably, people at Jordan’s level of achievement reach that self-same level because they’re impervious to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that bedevil the rest of us. The pro golfer who makes it to the tournament with nary a moment surrendered to the yips. Babe Ruth at bat, signaling where he’s going to knock that ball — and delivering. And Jordan, perfection upon perfection, right?
Not really. Difficult as it is to believe — and when the man floats through the air to dunk with the greatest of ease, you really do have a hard time thinking that even the laws of gravity apply — even His Airness had off games during his professional career. Which one was the worst?
Everybody has an off night
That’s one of those questions that sports fans can debate endlessly. How do you measure it? Time played? Points scored? Turnovers? Or the stakes — was it a regular season game, or a playoff?
ESPN has a great breakdown of Jordan’s career stats. Argue away. Among others making cases for various lowlights is Sportster, which suggests that a sure-thing contender for the questionable honor of Jordan’s Career Worst has to be the 1992 playoffs against the Knicks. In Game 6, Jordan took 25 shots, but only scored with nine of them. The Bulls lost that game. On the other hand, his mojo was back for Game 7, when he scored 42 out of the team’s 110 points for the win.
He had another off-night during playoffs, this time against the Utah Jazz. He took 27 shots; he scored 22 points. Even worse was his performance in 1997 against the Miami Heat in the playoffs. On May 26, he played just 45 minutes, and tallied one assist. That’s it. He made nine out of 35 shots that night — including a miss on all eight from the three-point line. Not a great night, by any standard of measurement.
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