Michael Jordan is highly regarded by many to be one of the greatest NBA basketball players of all time.
Six NBA Championships is the measuring stick and the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Seattle Sonics and the Utah Jazz were the obstacles in the NBA Finals.
In the NBA’s Eastern Conference, “The Jordan Rules” were MJ’s opposition.
The Jordan Rules were a defensive basketball strategy employed by the Detroit Pistons against Michael Jordan in order to limit his effectiveness on offense.
The Jordan Rules were devised by Isiah Thomas in 1988, the Pistons’ strategy was “to play him tough, to physically challenge MJ and to vary its defenses so as to try to throw him off balance.
The Jordan Rules were an instrumental aspect of the rivalry between the “Bad Boys” Pistons and Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This style of defense limited players including Jordan from entering the paint and was carried out by Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer.
The Jordan Rules were most effective for the Pistons during their first three playoff meetings with the Bulls. Detroit beat Chicago four games to one in the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Pistons and Bulls met each other in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the next 3 seasons. Detroit’s defense defeated the Bulls in 6 games in 1989 and in 7 games in 1990.
The Pistons won back-to-back championships after eliminating the Bulls. Finally, in 1991, the Bulls defeated the Pistons in the playoffs, neutralizing the Jordan Rules with their triangle offense, orchestrated by coach Phil Jackson and assistant Tex Winter.
They swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Soon after, the Bulls captured their 1st-ever NBA title, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals 4 games to 1.
“The thing that stands out the most is that I believe the league wanted Michael to win the championship and I believe we got in the way,” former Detroit Pistons big man, John Salley told me on Scoop B Radio.
Game 7 of that ‘91 Eastern Conference Finals was memorable because the Pistons walked off the court with 7.9 seconds left.
Salley and Pistons guard Joe Dumars were the only members of the team to stay on the court and shake hands with the Bulls after winning the series.
Salley says that Scottie Pippen was the difference maker for the Bulls.
“I remember when Scottie got the migraine and that was a big game for us and we won that game and went to the championship in 1990,” he said.
“But then I remember Scottie becoming tough, like mentally he became a different guy and they just came in and played tough.”
But Salley also says that the Bulls had an advantage because the NBA wanted the Bulls to win it all.
“The media was so against us,” he said.
“I always said it was eight against five when you played against the Bulls because the referees were wearing Jordans. You know and they probably had tattoos of Michael on their chest, so that’s what I remember them wanting their messiah to win.”
Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, Derrick Stafford, now a retired NBA referee after 30 years, gave a different perspective on MJ.
Stafford said that there was a specific reason that Michael Jordan was able to influence more calls in his direction compared to some of his peers in his era.
“One thing about Mike, he studied the rules as pretty much as anybody, so he knew the rules,” Stafford told Scoop B Radio.
“So, even though he may have been a little upset, he would ask a question that he wanted the answer to. And then a lot of times, he knew the answer already. So, he was smooth with the way he approached you because right away, you knew he knew the rules. So, you probably gave him a little more leeway than you would give someone else that was just spouting off and had no clue of what they were talking about.”
According to SecondNexus: Michael Jordan has zero official ejections from a basketball game. He did, however, receive 11 disqualifications throughout his NBA career. Many of those came from officials issuing him a second technical foul for unsportsmanlike behavior; fans might view those particular instances as “ejections.”
On February 3rd, 1992, Jordan got into a heated argument with an official. He wouldn’t let up, and he consequently earned his second technical foul of the game. This disqualified him from the game. It doesn’t count as an “ejection” in the box score, but it certainly has the feel of one.
Check out this video and decide for yourself.
What make Mike’s technical foul accrual so minimal?
“Mike didn’t get many technical fouls,” Derrick Stafford told Scoop B Radio.
“But when he wanted one, you knew there was no question about it. I will tell people; he got the same treatment of a lot of other great players. I mean great players really don’t. It may appear they are getting breaks, but they don’t need them. He played through plays, he played over plays, he played under plays. Mike was just a smart basketball player so, he stayed out of foul trouble. He knew how many fouls he had and when the other team was in the penalty. There were so many things that he knew that other people didn’t know.”