On Oct. 26, 1984, a young basketball player named Michael Jordan stepped onto an NBA court for the first time.
Jordan’s first game with the Chicago Bulls was a win over the Washington Bullets. The final score of the game was 109-93, and Jordan scored 16 points, with six rebounds and seven assists.
If that sounds like an auspicious debut, it’s worth noting that Jordan was already facing an uphill battle, as Sam Smith writes in his upcoming book, There is No Next: NBA Legends on the Legacy of Michael Jordan.
“The Bulls scorers of the day were Orlando Woolridge and Quintin Dailey, neither of whom much passed the ball Dailey pretty openly resented Jordan coming for his job. The Bullets were on notice, as well, about the acclaimed rookie coming off an Olympic gold medal triumph. Jordan was the only Bulls player that night to get a regular double team from the Bullets.”
A few short weeks later, Jordan would drop 33 points in his Madison Square Garden Debut against the New York Knicks, and his legacy was on its way to being carved in stone.
In 1984, Jordan wasn’t the worldwide phenomenon he’d become. NBA Commissioner David Stern mentions in Smith’s book that he visited China in 1990, where a tour guide told him “she was a great fan of the red oxen.” But, he was on his way. Early in the 1984-85 season, Smith asked Jordan how things were going.
Jordan’s response: “[This is] the best time of my life.”