Just eight months ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers did all they could to stop him. They bumped him and tried to deny him and threw three of the league's best shot blockers at him.
But Michael Jordan still scored 69 points that March night.So why couldn't he score 100 points against the Denver Nuggets, whose idea of defense is hoping their opponents miss.
"A lot of people are going to be there to see if I can do it," said Jordan about his first meeting Saturday night with Paul Westhead's accelerated game here.
And they figured to be disappointed, for even Jordan doubted anyone ever would match Wilt Chamberlain 100-point game of 28 years ago.
"I still wonder sometimes how he did it," said Jordan, acknowledging the subject is being raised again to him, as it was March 28 after that Cleveland game. "He couldn't have gone past half court much.
"There's no way I'd have the stamina to get 100," says Jordan. "I don't see how anyone could. Since they started talking about Denver's new style, people have been saying I would score 100.
"But it's not possible. Physically," said Jordan, "I couldn't withstand the beating I'd take running up and down the court 48 minutes.
"When I scored that 69 (on 23 of 27 field goals, two worth three points, and 21 of 23 free throws), I was dead," said Jordan. "It's hard to believe I could score 31 more."
Yet that's what some NBA people have been speculating about ever since Westhead ran his Loyola Marymount style into the pros with the Nuggets. In the first 11 games, it has produced 10 losses, about 145 points per game for its opponents and it's share of critics.
"Crap-a-doodle," it was called by former NBA coach Alex Hannum. Current coaches Cotton Fitzsimmons and Larry Brown said it seemed OK for the Nuggets, but they preferred their teams to play defense.
And then the Suns scored an NBA record 102 points in the half against the Nuggets, tiring at the end to end up with 173. And the Spurs got 161 without Willie Anderson and Rod Strickland, prompting David Robinson to say, "We could have scored 200 with Rod and Willie."
So maybe Jordan should be good enough to get half that? Why, on some nights he seems like the whole team. And he scored 63 points against Boston in the playoffs and has more games of 50 points or more than anyone but Chamberlain. And he has the highest lifetime scoring average of anyone who ever has played the game, 32.8, as well as the all-time records for the playoffs and All-Star games.
But times are changing for Jordan and the Bulls.
"That's hogwash," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson, when asked about Jordan scoring 100 points. "I want to see Michael go out and not think about putting the ball up too quickly, but getting the best shot."
And even if that's Jackson's favored style, he's not about to criticize Westhead.
"I don't mind it," said Jackson about the Nuggets new style. "It is refreshing in this league to have a varity of things. Because I do think so many times everyone follows just what is successful. Detroit's had success with something, so you see everyone trying to copy that.
"But basketball is more than that," says Jackson. "It's a game with so many options."