Michael Jordan, who will turn 50 on Sunday, had a knack for post-birthday celebrations at the hands of the Nets' franchise.
Jordan's two most memorable games against the team bookended the beginning and end of his NBA career.
The first was Feb. 26, 1987, during Jordan's third season in the league and just nine days after his 24th birthday, when the Chicago Bulls hosted the 13-41, cellar-dwelling Nets.
Jordan had a scintillating game, shooting 16-for-25 from the field and 26-for-27 from the line on his way to 58 points -- without attempting a 3-point shot. He also chipped in 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots. And he did all this in 37 minutes.
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From Elias Sports Bureau
"When someone does that to you, you try to block that our of your memory," Dave Wohl, the Nets' coach at the time, said in a phone interview last week. "We were depleted from having Micheal Ray Richardson banned from the league and Darryl Dawkins out with a broken back. [Jordan] was impossible for us to guard. We didn't have the personnel to do to him what a team like the Pistons could. If you put him on the foul line as much as we did that night, then you're not doing a good job defensively."
Jordan became the NBA's first 40-year-old to score 40 points in a game. He did so against one of the Nets' best teams, one that would go on to lose to San Antonio a few months later in the NBA Finals.
Jordan scored 43 points in 43 minutes on 18-for-30 shooting from the field. Again, he did so without taking a 3-point shot. The Wizards won 89-86, with Jordan scoring the winning points on a driving layup with 34 seconds remaining.
"I don't feel like 40," Jordan told the media afterward. "I feel good. I feel like I can compete, and on certain nights I can compete with the best.”
This came less than a month after Jordan shot 4-for-16 and scored eight points in a loss to the Nets, the fewest points he scored in any of the 54 regular-season and playoff games he played against them.
Other memorable games
April 2 and April 14, 1989: In a two-week span, Jordan had a pair of triple-doubles against the Nets, the first a 27-point, 14-rebound, 12-assist effort in a win, the second a 29-point, 10-rebound, 12-assist tally in a Nets upset win.
1998 Eastern Conference playoffs, first round: The Nets played the Bulls tough, but Jordan was too much for them to handle. Their best shot came in Game 1, when they rallied to force overtime, with the winning points coming on a Jordan dunk/three-point play with 43 seconds left. Jordan averaged 36.3 points in a three-game sweep of the Nets en route to an NBA title.
Dec. 31, 2001: Jordan rang in the new year for the Wizards with 45 points in a 98-76 drubbing of the Nets, the second-most points he scored in any game against them.