Michael Jordan’s infamous “bad” tooth had a lasting impact on his NBA career. From the time he first pulled it during Game 1 of the 1987 playoffs, MJ has never achieved what some would say is his true potential in basketball.
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Sidney Moncrief, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, was credited with keeping a young Michael Jordan scoreless in the second half of the Chicago Bulls rookie’s first NBA playoff game. Moncrief, a five-time All-Star who also led all scorers with 30 points in a Game 1 triumph for the Milwaukee Bucks, may have had some assistance. However, the help didn’t always come from Moncrief’s partner in the form of a double team. Jordan was the one who said it.
Michael Jordan made an immediate impression on the NBA.
Michael Jordan (L), Scottie Pippen (C), and Toni Kukoc of the Chicago Bulls watch their teammates play against the Milwaukee Bucks. | AFP/VINCENT LAFORET/Getty Images
Jordan got directly to work after the Bulls selected him third overall in the 1984 NBA Draft. Jordan, who is known for his fierce competitiveness, started all 82 regular-season games as a rookie and led the club to its first playoff appearance in four years.
Jordan created a name for himself right away, scoring 28.2 points per game in his first season. He was voted Rookie of the Year in the NBA and made his first of 14 All-Star appearances.
He was instrumental in the Bulls improving their rankings by 11 victories and securing the seventh seed in the playoffs. The Bulls ended with a 38-44 record, putting them in a first-round game against the Milwaukee Bucks, who were seeded second. With a 59-23 record, Milwaukee finished 21 games ahead of the Bulls.
The Bulls were no match for the Bucks, who took four games to win the best-of-five series.
In the first round of the playoffs, Michael Jordan’s tooth and Sidney Moncrief held the Bulls’ star in check.
Jordan had a strong first half in his debut NBA playoff game, scoring 19 points as his Bulls trailed 58-54 at halftime. Jordan and the Bulls were held to a stalemate in the second half.
Moncrief, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, pursued Jordan all the way down the floor and kept him scoreless in the third quarter. Jordan’s only points in the second half came on free throws in the fourth quarter. On 7-for-19 shooting, he scored 23 points. Milwaukee won by a score of 109-100.
Moncrief was adamant about not taking full credit.
According to United Press International, Moncrief remarked after the game, “One person is not going to stop Michael.” “He’s a far too talented attacking player.” We’ve always used the team notion. We can’t allow him to average 40 to 50 points each game.”
Jordan said that he was held back by more than just the Milwaukee defense.
Jordan said, “I didn’t shoot well in the second half.” “I’m experiencing dental problems.” I have a wisdom teeth that is about to erupt through the skin. They’ll take care of it the next day.
“It disturbed me a great deal.” It troubled me a lot in the second half and made it difficult for me to get into the game. I don’t think I’ve ever gone a half without scoring a basket.”
Moncrief was also the Bucks’ offensive leader.
Moncrief was not only shutting down Jordan, but he was also putting up big numbers on offense. With 30 points, the 6-foot-3 guard, who was in his sixth NBA season, topped all scorers. He also had six assists on the night. Moncrief has a reputation for getting off to a sluggish start in the playoffs.
“I felt like I hadn’t performed well in the first playoff game in the past five or six years,” Moncrief remarked after the game. “As a result, I made a concerted effort to come out and have a good time.”
Quintin Dailey scored 25 points off the bench for the Bulls. Don Nelson, the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, was OK with it providing his team could limit Jordan.
Jordan tallied 19 points in the first half, according to Nelson. “It seemed that the only way we could stop him was to double-team him early on.” Dailey had a fantastic performance. You have to give up something when you take something away.”
Toni Kukoc has finally expressed his gratitude to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for humiliating him over 30 years ago.