Michael Jordan's Worst Career Game Stats, Shooting Performances and Misses

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 10, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 1988, file photo, Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan dunks the ball during the Slam-Dunk championship in Chicago, as a part of the NBA All-Star weekend. By the 1980s, America finally publicly embraced the black athlete, looking past skin color to see athleticism and skill, rewarding stars with multimillion-dollar athletic contracts, movie deals, lucrative shoe endorsements and mansions in all-white enclaves. Who didn’t want to be like Mike? (AP Photo/John Swart, File)
John Swart/Associated Press

NBA legend Michael Jordan has starred in plenty of Nike commercials over the decades, but one arguably stands out above the most:

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over, and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

That ad came out during the middle of the Bulls' second championship three-peat, a time when Jordan wasn't failing much at all.

Jordan's penchant for taking his failures and perceived slights (either real or made-up) and turning them into fuel for his success is one of his most notable traits.

Although he's arguably the closest thing to a basketball immortal in the sport's history, he's had some ugly games. But he's been able to learn from those performances and improve for the better.

Here's a look at times when Jordan failed, with an extra view on how he was able to bounce back from those performances later in the season. 


March 14, 1985

Jordan's rookie year featured a particularly ugly game against the New York Knicks, one of the NBA's worst teams. MJ shot 5-of-18 from the field and just 6-of-11 from the free-throw line for the 31-34 Bulls, who entered the game far ahead of the 21-44 Knicks in the standings.

But the Bulls lost 106-97 and needed to dig in their hooves a bit to make the playoffs after dropping a game.

That wasn't an issue for Jordan, who responded to that outing by averaging 30.8 points on 52.3 percent shooting for the remainder of the year. The Bulls were up and down during that stretch (7-9) but were able to sneak into the playoff field.


March 17-25, 1986

Jordan was sidelined for four months during the 1985-86 season with a broken foot after playing just three regular-season games.

He returned to the court in March on a minutes restriction, but he looked very rusty out of the gate.

After a 4-of-7 outing in his return, Jordan proceeded to shoot just 32.2 percent from the field over his next four games. He still scored 14.3 points in just 15.3 minutes per game, but the struggling Bulls went just 0-4 with their leader back in the mix.

The final game in that stretch was a 123-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that dropped Chicago to 24-48 and on the precipice of missing the playoffs.

Jordan bore down and carried the Bulls the rest of the way, though, leading his team to a 6-4 finish thanks to 26.5 points on 49.0 percent shooting in 27.9 minutes per game. He then dropped 49 points in Game 1 of the first playoff round against the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics before adding 63 more in Game 2.


January 15, 1987

Jordan has never missed more shots in one single game than he did on January 15, 1987, when he bricked 26 field goals on a 17-of-43 shooting night against the Houston Rockets.

Chicago lost 107-96, although MJ still scored 43 points.

All Jordan did to follow that up was drop 47 points on 17-of-34 shooting (13-of-14 free throws), grab 10 rebounds, dish six assists and add four steals in a 105-89 win just two nights later.

Jordan finished that season with a career-high 37.1 points per game.

The second occasion came on a greater stage, but it ended up mattering very little. His Airness made just 9-of-35 shots for 29 points in an 87-80 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which the Bulls ended up winning in five games en route to their fifth NBA championship.


Playoff Rebounds Against the New York Knicks in 1989, 1992 and 1993

The New York Knicks lost to Jordan's Bulls five times in the playoffs from 1989 through 1996, but they gave them stiff challenges more often than not.

New York tied its second-round series against the Bulls in 1989 after MJ went just 7-of-17 with 15 points. That gave the Knicks some momentum with the series heading back to Chicago, but Jordan averaged 41.3 points on 55.8 percent shooting, grabbed 9.8 rebounds, dished 8.8 assists and contributed three steals and two blocks per night the rest of the series, which the team won 4-2.

Things looked far more dire for the Bulls in 1992. Chicago only saw two playoff series go the distance during its pair of three-peats: once against the Indiana Pacers in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals and once against New York in the 1992 East semis.

That occurred after the Bulls lost 100-86 to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Jordan scored just 21 points on 9-of-25 shooting.

With their backs against the wall, though, Jordan's Bulls crushed New York in Game 7, winning 110-81 behind MJ's 42 points on 15-of-29 shooting.

Jordan's old foes would be back the next year, this time in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks took the first two games, and John Starks punctuated the last one with a baseline dunk over center Bill Cartwright with Jordan in the vicinity.

Before Game 2, Jordan went gambling with his father, James, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to take his mind things, and what followed was a torrent of negative media attention of reporters in disbelief that MJ would go gambling during a playoff series.

Apparently the circumstances surrounding the moment were all Jordan needed to simply take the postseason over at that juncture, averaging 32.5 point per game in four straight wins over New York to send his team to the NBA Finals.

Once there, Jordan averaged 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists to lead the Bulls to a 4-2 series win over the Phoenix Suns.


The Final Season

There was much to forget about Jordan's final two NBA seasons as a member of the Washington Wizards from 2001-2003, with Washington failing to make the playoffs both times.

But Jordan still had it, posting 21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists over his final two years. Of note, Jordan turned 40 years old during the 2002-03 campaign but still had his moments.

Some of those moments were good, but others, not so much.

The worst night occurred when Jordan registered the worst single-game shooting performance of his career, going 1-of-9 for just two points on Dec. 15, 2002, against the Toronto Raptors. Jordan still had nine dimes and eight rebounds in the 95-82 win, but this marked his lowest scoring output and made-field-goal total of his career.

But once again, Jordan bounced back strongly, scoring 30 on 12-of-18 shooting in a 109-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks before adding 34 points on 14-of-23 shooting in a 118-100 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The season didn't end with a playoff berth, but Jordan was still remarkably impressive in his 15th and final NBA campaign.