Did playing against Michael Jordan motivate Dominique Wilkins to greatness?
Dominique Wilkins is a Hall of Famer, selected in 2006. He averaged 24.8 points per game and was a nine-time All-Star. Based on researching some numbers from his career, he may been one player who when he played against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, really elevated his game when facing basketball’s GOAT.
Jordan played for the Bulls from 1984-95 to 1992-92, and then rejoined the team at the end of the 1994-95 season and retired from the Bulls at the end of the 1997-98 season. During those Jordan-Bulls years, there were 24 times (by 16 different players) when an opposing player tallied 40 or more points in a game versus Jordan’s Bulls. Of those 24 times, Wilkins scored 40+ points against the Bulls five times, most of any rival player.
Here are the players who scored 40 or more points in a regular season game versus the Bulls during the years Jordan played with the team.
Dominique Wilkins, 5 times
Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Bernard King and Reggie Miller, each twice
Adrian Dantley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Darrell Griffith, Allen Iverson, Jeff Malone, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Glenn Robinson, Rony Seikaly, Kelly Tripucka, one time each
Wilkins tops the list with the most points scored by a player in a game versus the Bulls with Jordan on the roster. Wilkins scored 57 points in a December 10, 1986 game. Adrian Dantley is second on that list with a 45-point game against the Jordan-led Bulls.
From the 1984-85 season to the 1997-98 season, Wilkins tops the list for most total points scored against the Bulls with 1,492, a 28.7 per game average, also tops on the list. Patrick Ewing was second with 1,154 total points, followed by Isiah Thomas with 1,070 points and Charles Barkley with 1,065 points.
If we look at which opposing players had the most 30-point games versus the Bulls from 1984-85 to 1997-98, again Wilkins tops the list with 23 such games. Barkley and Larry Bird follow Wilkins with 13 games and Ewing had 10.
Only one other opposing player had a 50-point game in a contest with Jordan playing. Kobe Bryant had 55 in a March 28, 2003 game between the L.A. Lakers and Washington Wizards. Jordan was a member of the Wizards and tallied 23 points in that game. Orlando’s Tracy McGrady had 50 points in a March 8, 2002 game against the Wizards, but Jordan did not play in that game due to an injury.
The numbers seem pretty clear… Dominique Wilkins seemed to raise his game to another level when he was on the same court as Jordan. For his career, Wilkins averaged 27 points versus the Bulls in 66 total games, second-most versus any team (he averaged 27.2 points per game against the Kings in 27 contests).
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Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker made all 14 of his free throw attempts in his team’s win over Orlando on Monday night. It was the second time in his career that he attempted 14 or more free throws in a game and made all of them. Walker was the fifth player to accomplish this feat this year; James Harden and Damian Lilliard have each done it twice.
Since 1963-64, a total of 452 players have attempted 14 or more free throws in a game and made all of them. Kevin Martin tops the list with 12 such games, followed by Kobe Bryant, James Harden and Jerry West, each with 10 games where they attempted 14 or more free throws and made all of them.
Dominique Wilkins holds the league mark since 1963-64 with the most free throw attempts by a player who made all of them. He was 23-for-23 in a December 8, 1992 game between his Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago Bulls. Five other players have attempted 20 or more free throws and made all of them in a game: Kevin Durant (2013) and Deron Williams (2012), each were 21-for-21… and Kobe Bryant (2009), Richard Hamilton (2004) and A’mare Stoudemire (2008), each were 20-for-20.
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Let’s start this blog with a quiz…
Of the 10 NBA Hall of Fame players listed below, who scored less than 10 points in his NBA debut and who scored more than 20 points in their first game in the NBA? Here’s a hint: Four of the players listed scored less than 10 points; three of those listed scored 20 or more.
The answer is at the end of this column.
This blog is about NBA debuts. The NBA season got started earlier this week and a couple of rookies got their careers off to a great start. Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th pick of the Philadelphia 76ers (from Syracuse) had a big game in the 76ers upset of the Miami Heat. Carter-Williams had 22 points in his NBA debut. Two other first-year players tallied 10 or more points in their first games. Vitor Faverani, the 25-year-old Brazilian who played professionally in Spain from 2005-13, had 13 points in his NBA debut with the Boston Celtics. Victor Oladipo, the second pick of the 2013 draft (Indiana University) by the Orlando Magic had 12 points in his first game in the league.
Based on research on basketball-reference.com dating back to the 1963-64 NBA season, 21 different players scored 25 or more points in their NBA debut. Topping the list is John Drew who scored 32 points for the Atlanta Hawks on October 18, 1974 against the Chicago Bulls. Here’s a look at the players who scored 25 or more points in their NBA debut since 1963-64.
Points in NBA debut, players
32: John Drew
31: Isiah Thomas
30: Willie Anderson, Allen Iverson, Lamar Odom
29: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gordon Giricek
27: Ron Anderson, Bobby Jackson, Jerry Stackhouse
26: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Darrell Griffith, Magic Johnson, Donyell Marshall, Mitchell Wiggins
25: Willie Burton, Ron Harper, Elvin Hayes, Grant Hill, LeBron James, Rudy Macklin
Trivia answer: The four players who scored less than 10 points in their NBA debut were Dave Bing (0), Clyde Drexler (2), Karl Malone (8) and Pete Maravich (7). The three Hall of Famers who scored 20 or more in their first NBA game were Bob Lanier (22), Bob McAdoo (20) and Dominique Wilkins (23). The other three players on the list were Larry Bird (14), Michael Jordan (16) and Bill Walton (18).
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“SIX STATS…” is a bonus feature of Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ and is published every Friday.
The 61st version of the NBA All-Star Game will be held this Sunday in Orlando. Here are a few interesting stats about the history of this game.
1. The team that has the lead at halftime has won 46 and lost only 12 (the game was tied at halftime in two contests). The East has a 26-3 record when leading at halftime.
2. Seven players have scored 20 or more points in the game and had zero assists in the game. Bob Pettit and Dominique Wilkins lead this contingent. Pettit had 29 points and no assists in the 1961 game; Wilkins had 29 points and no assists in the 1988 contest. Others: Paul Arizin (26 points/0 assists in 1952), Pettit (25 points/0 assists in 1963), Dave DeBusschere (22 points/0 assists in 1967), Willis Reed (20 points/0 assists in 1970), Karl Malone (28 points/no assists in 1993). Malone is the last player to “accomplish” this feat.
3. Of the previous 60 games, only 19 were decided by five points or less. However, five of the last 11 games have been decided by five points or less, including the last two. Ten of the 60 games have been decided by 20 points or more.
4. Based on a minimum of ten shots taken, eight players had a shooting percentage of .800 or above in an NBA All-Star Game. The eight: Oscar Robertson (1970, 9 of 11, .818), George Gervin (1985, 10 of 12, .833), Patrick Ewing (1990, 8 of 10, .800), Mark Price (1994, 8 of 10, .800), Tim Duncan (2000, 12 of 14, .857), Kenyon Martin (2004, 8 of 10, .800), Dwyane Wade (2006, 9 of 11, .818), Brandon Roy (2008, 8 of 10, .800).
5. The team that gathers more rebounds in the game has a slight 31-29 edge. The West has won the rebound battle in 35 of the 60 games. Remarkably, they have outrebounded the East in the last 13 games. The team that has a higher shooting percentage for the game has won 44 of the 60 games. Each team has had the better field goal percentage in 30 games. In eight of the last nine games, the team that has a higher field goal prcentage for the game has won.
6. Last season Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol combined for 54 points in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. They became only the fifth pair of teammates to combine for 50 or more points in the all-star game. The others: 1961-Hawks teammates Bob Pettit and Clyde Lovellette, 50 points; 1962-Lakers teammates Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, 50 points; 1965-Cincinnati teammates Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas, 53 points; 1967-Warriors teammates Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond, 54 points.