On this day in 1989, Michael Jordan scores 54 in Phil Jackson’s Bulls debut

SHARE On this day in 1989, Michael Jordan scores 54 in Phil Jackson’s Bulls debut
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MATT KRYGER / COPLEY NEWS SERVICE Bulls coach Phil Jackson talks with Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman during a time-out of Saturdays (12.28.96) game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Exactly 26 years ago today, NBA legend Phil Jackson made his head-coaching debut in an overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Michael Jordan scored 54, and the Bulls won 124-199 over the Cavs, who were led by notable players such as Ron Harper, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, Brad Daugherty, Hot Rod Williams, Larry Nance and Steve Kerr.

For the Bulls, Scottie Pippen scored 19 points and had seven assists, and Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright each added 17.

The win was the first of Jackson’s 1,155 as a head coach.

An excerpt from “Bulls Elevate Phil Jackson to Head Coach” via the New York Times:

(Jackson’s) only experience as a head coach came during five seasons with the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association, which named him its top coach in 1985. His ascension to the top job comes four days after (Doug) Collins, who led the Bulls to within two games of the N.B.A. finals, was dismissed for what were called philosophical differences with the owner, Jerry Reinsdorf. Asked if what happened to Collins might affect him, Jackson replied: No. I’ve got a good basketball team with me and the future’s very bright. 4-Year Pact Reported The Chicago Tribune said Jackson would get a four-year contract with the first two years guaranteed. The pact calls for about $275,000 the first season and escalates to about $350,000, the newspaper said, sums similar to those in Collins’s contract.

The Bulls finished the season 55-27 and were eliminated by the Pistons in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Jordan was named All-NBA First Team.

Watch: Phil Jackson wins his NBA debut

All stats via Basketball Reference.

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