Chicago Bulls History: MJ made his NBA debut 36 years ago today

Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport
Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport /

On this day 36 years ago, the Chicago Bulls legendary shooting guard Michael Jordan made his NBA debut in a win over the Washington Bullets.

On this day (Oct. 26), more than 30 years ago, the Chicago Bulls Hall-of-Fame shooting guard and former North Carolina Tar Heel Michael Jordan made his NBA debut. At the time, Jordan was just 21 years old and was the highly touted third overall pick of the Bulls from the 1984 NBA Draft. His debut came on Oct. 26, 1984, against the Washington Bullets (now the Wizards).

The NBA debut of Jordan to open up the 1984-85 regular season resulted in a win for the Bulls over the Bullets by the final score of 109-93. Jordan himself registered a decent (but inefficient in parts) stat line in the win over the Bullets. He raked in 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, four blocks, and five turnovers.

There were a lot of turnovers that Jordan had in his first game, and he shot just north of 30 percent from the field. But he was very solid in the rebounding department, often found his open teammates, and was an absolute force to be reckoned with on the defensive end of the floor.

The leading scorer in this game was on the Bulls side, with the 6-foot-9 forward Orlando Woolridge registering 28 points on the night. Jordan did lead the Bulls in playing time, with a whopping 40 minutes on the floor, though.

With the stat line that Jordan posted, he wound up with a stout 85 defensive rating, 0.8 box plus/minus rating, and 41.9 true shooting percentage. The offensive efficiency, or lack thereof, in Jordan’s debut was highlighted in the modern advanced stats. But this was a solid start for him, all things considered.

Throughout the entirety of his rookie campaign, Jordan played in all 82 regular season games for the Bulls (starting in all of them). He averaged 28.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.4 steals, and 0.8 blocks. Jordan wound up winning the Rookie of the Year honors, got his first All-Star nod, and got All-NBA Second-Team honors.

It’s also very impressive that Jordan finished in the top six in the MVP Award Share voting for the 1984-85 season. He led the NBA in total points as a rookie, and was third in points per game (behind Bernard King and Larry Bird).

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Jordan had a truly special rookie campaign that would spark the greatest career we’ve seen in the NBA to date. He pushed the Bulls to finish the regular season with a record of 38-44, and barely slid into the playoffs. That was an 11-win improvement from the previous season for the Bulls.