This Day In Sports: MJ makes history again as he nears the end

February 21, 2003, 20 years ago today: At the age of 40, Michael Jordan becomes the oldest player ever to score 40 points or more in an NBA game, putting up 43 in the Washington Wizards’ 89-86 victory over the New Jersey Nets. It was the eighth and final 40-point game during his two seasons with the Wizards and (needless to say) the final 40-point outing of his career. Forty points was a thing for Jordan. Including the postseason, Jordan scored 40 or more in a game 211 times during his NBA career. The only player with more was Wilt Chamberlain with 271 (regular season only).

Jared Jeffries, who played with Jordan as a Wizards rookie during the 2002-03 season, talked about that on an episode of the Wizards Talk Podcast ahead of “The Last Dance” premiere. “He would break down getting 40 points,” Jeffries said on the podcast. “It would be like 10 free throws, a couple layups in transition, curl screen; little things where he knew how to break the game down to get 40 points. It’s like ‘dang man, it’s that easy for you to go out and get 40.’ He could just feel a 40-point game coming on. When for everybody else, it was a career-high, but for him it was like ‘tonight I’m gonna have 40 or I’m gonna have 50.’ And it would be done.”

Jordan never went scoreless in 1,251 NBA games, and he never scored less than 15 points in 179 playoff games and less than 20 only six times. He failed to reach double-figures just 13 times in 1,251 career games and, again, never did during the playoffs. Jordan’s career-high in scoring in a game was 69 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1990. He had a 64-point effort against Orlando in January, 1993, and he set the NBA Playoffs record with 63 points versus the Boston Celtics in 1986.

During that final season, Jordan didn’t worry about “load management,” the trendy topic during the NBA All-Star Weekend just completed. That’s the term for the ever-increasing cases of NBA players sitting out games simply to rest. Despite the fact it was his final year, Jordan was the only Wizard to play in all 82 games in 2002-03. And he averaged 20 points and six rebounds per game.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *