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Chicago Bulls

This Date in NBA History (May 1): Michael Jordan becomes first player in Playoff history to record consecutive 50-point games in 1988 and more

On May 1st in 1988, Michael Jordan went off for 55 points (24-45 FGs; 7-7 FTs) at the Chicago Stadium in a 106-101 Game 2 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. With this performance, he became the first and, to date, the only player in NBA Playoff history to record consecutive 50-point games.

Three days earlier, in Game 1 of the Chicago Bulls' first-round series with the Cavaliers, he had scored 50 (19-35 FGs; 12-12 FTs) in a 104-93 win.

The Bulls advanced to the Conference Semifinals by defeating the Cavaliers 3-2 in the best-of-five series.

Over the five games, Jordan averaged 45.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.8 steals on 55.9% shooting. His points per game average is just short of Jerry West's all-time record of 46.3, although the latter's record was registered in six games as part of a best-of-seven series.

Although the Bulls had a short 1988 postseason as they lost 4-1 to the Detroit Pistons in the Conference Semifinals, Jordan was coming off one of, if not, the most accomplished regular season in NBA history.

For the 1987-88 season, Jordan averaged 35.0 points, 5.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.2 steals while playing a league-high 40.4 minutes per game through all 82 games. His points and steals per game averages were also league-highs. For those season averages and leading the Bulls to their first 50-win season in 14 years, he was named league MVP - the first of his career.

He was also named Defensive Player of the Year - the first such honour of his career - thus becoming the first player in league history to win both awards at some point in their career (later, three other players achieved this feat). He was also the first player ever to win both awards in the same season (Hakeem Olajuwon later did the same in 1994).

At the All-Star Weekend in Chicago, his dunk-contest duel with Dominique Wilkins is still considered among the greatest ever.

A day later, at the All-Star Game in Chicago Stadium, he was named All-Star Game MVP for leading the East to a 138-133 win. In just 29 minutes, he finished with 40 points (17-23 FGs), eight rebounds, four steals, four blocks, and three assists.

Other notable events on May 1

  • In 1963, J. Walter Kennedy succeeded Maurice Podoloff and became the NBA's second President. The job title was later changed to Commissioner.
  • In 1970, The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 121-115 in Game 4 of the Finals by outscoring them 22-15 in the overtime session. This extra period is the highest-scoring overtime session in NBA Playoff history.
  • In 1980, the city of Dallas was granted an expansion franchise. The Mavericks increased the number of teams in the league to 23.
  • In 1999, Tommy Nunez, a 27-year veteran referee in the NBA, is presented with The Gold Whistle Award during halftime of a Suns-Grizzlies content in Phoenix. The award is presented annually to an official recognized for community involvement, achievement in officiating and a reputation of strong integrity and ethics.

Game-winning buzzer-beaters on May 1

Sidney Moncrief vs. Philadelphia 76ers in 1982

Notable Playoff eliminations on May 1

  • In 2016, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers 89-84 in Game 7 of their first-round series. With this win, they advanced to the Conference Semifinals for only the second time in franchise history and the first since 2001.
  • In 2006, the LA Clippers eliminated the Denver Nuggets in five games in the first-round series. With the 101-83 Game 5 win, the Clippers booked their first Conference Semifinals ticket since 1976 and the first since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1984.
  • In 2005, the Miami Heat eliminated the New Jersey Nets 4-0, the franchise's first playoff sweep in a seven-game series.
  • In 1996, the Chicago Bulls squad, that won 72 games in the regular season, swept the Miami Heat 3-0 in their first-round series.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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