Game 2, Celtics vs. Bulls, 1986, the one where Michael Jordan scored 63 points. Watching it over a number of days on the exercise bike, I was struck by the following:
1. The Chicago Bulls, to a remarkable degree, decided to run their offense through Orlando Woolridge, and not for the better.
2. The camera did not follow MJ around obsessively, nor do the announcers seem to realize how great he will become — this was his second season, and he spent much of it injured and not playing. And he was not yet able to make his teammates better (see #1).
3. One announcer remarks that Charles Oakley is not big and strong enough to play center. Admittedly Robert Parrish was taller, but Oakley was about 6’10” and one of the strongest men ever to play in the NBA.
4. The game comes across as remarkably slow, and the Celtics as molasses slow and bad at defense. A swarming contemporary defense would shut down Kevin McHale. Ainge and Dennis Johnson are heralded as one of the best backcourts ever, but I believe Damian Lillard or a few other current peers would cut them to ribbons. Note that the Celtics were 41-1 at home that season, still a record, so they were a remarkable team for their time.
5. Michael Jordan scores most of his points on shots — the long 2 — that coaches strongly discourage players from taking these days because of their low expected value.
7. MJ aside, Bill Walton is the one who comes across as the world-class player on the court, despite his age of 33, a long history of foot and other injuries, and limited mobility.
8. 63 points is a lot, but the Bulls lost the game and Jordan was far from his later peak. It is nonetheless striking how much better was his conditioning than that of any other player on the court, and that is why he was able to score so much in the fourth quarter and take over the game.