Larry Bird Calls Michael Jordan God: This Day in Sports History

Brian Giuffra
Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan. / Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's hard to imagine now, but at the start of this day in 1986, Michael Jordan wasn't considered an other-worldly basketball god, as many pundits, namely Skip Bayless, have pedestaled him over the last week leading up to The Last Dance release.

Then Jordan went out and dropped an individual playoff-scoring record on the Celtics that still stands. And everything changed.

In what can only be described as the greatest scoring performance in NBA playoff history, Jordan scored 63 points against the eventual-champion Boston Celtics, who featured Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Bill Walton, Danny Ainge, and Dennis Johnson on the team. That group of stars was hellbent on stopping Jordan as he pilled up points on them; pitting Johnson, a nine-time All-Defense guard, on him, switching defenders when that didn't work, and throwing double- and triple-teams at him. But nothing could stop Jordan.

After the game, Bird issued the famous quote that it was, "God disguised as Michael Jordan" on the court that night. It was the start of Jordan's ascension to NBA immortality, though the Bulls lost the game in double overtime and were swept by the Celtics in the series.

You can check out Jordan's highlights from the game below. It was a true masterpiece by a man who became viewed as a deity to many, but at the start of the day was a mere mortal.