When Michael Jordan Dropped 49 Points While Sporting Rare No. 12 Jersey

Throwback to when a young Michael Jordan reluctantly donned an unnamed No.12 Jersey after his iconic No.23 went missing. Know more about this unexpected twist during a game against the Orlando Magic.

Published on May 31, 2024  |  02:47 AM IST |  69.5K
Image Source: Chicago Bulls Archive Instagram
Image Source: Chicago Bulls Archive Instagram

When we think of some of the most iconic player jerseys in NBA history, it’s impossible not to think of Kobe’s No.8 and 24, Bird’s 33, and Magic Johnson’s No.32. The 2000s and 2010s basketball fans will even throw in Lebron James’ No.23 and No.6 just for good measure.

Though numerous players including James dawned the No.23 and put their own spin on it, no player made the jersey more synonymous with success quite like Michael Jordan. Jordan played a significant chunk of his career making history and breaking records with the No.23 jersey.

MJ also played under No.45. However, that streak ended quickly after former Orlando Magic guard Nick Anderson infamously said to MJ. “45 ain’t 23.” 

But in a regular season game in 1990, Jordan took to the court sporting an unusual, no-name No.12 jersey which left everyone watching, utterly confused. This begs the question, what led to Jordan deciding to wear a no-name jersey? 

The Iconic No.23 Went Missing

On Valentine's Day 1990, the Chicago Bulls were visiting Orlando to battle against the Magic as part of their six-game road trip. Entering the game with a 29-19 record, coach Phil Jackson was determined to get more wins in the column so that the Bulls could make a deep playoff run.


But shockingly, just moments before the game, it was revealed that someone had managed to steal Jordan’s 23 and get away with it (At Least initially). Speaking on it in detail, Director of Team Operations for Olando Magic, Rodney Powell talked about the incident and how it transpired:


“That morning, After the shoot around, their locker room was set up. Every player’s jersey, shorts, warm ups, all laid out. After they (players) left the building, the locker room door was dead bolted and locked”.

Powell continued, “the Bulls showed up probably around 4:30. When they walked in the Locker room, they noticed that the Number 23 was missing” 

Finding out that his jersey went missing riled up the then five-time All-Star. As the Bulls didn’t have a backup Jersey, staff members were tasked with scouring the arena for an ideal MJ-sized No.23 jersey, but ended up with more disappointment. 

With no options remaining Jordan was offered the No.12 jersey which the team kept for unforeseen events. Being the professional that he is, the six-time champ agreed and took to the court for his only NBA game without No.23 or 45.


Jordan Shined Regardless

Though playing without his iconic threads bothered Jordan, it didn’t affect his productivity on the court. The young vet scored 49 points and seven rebounds in a thrilling overtime encounter which sadly ended with the Magic earning the W.


Despite their best efforts, the team gave up too many points during the fourth quarter and OT which proved to be detrimental. 

Learning a valuable lesson from their tough loss, the Bulls built up momentum in the coming games and managed to finish the season with a 55-27 record. Jordan finished the regular season averaging 33.6 points, 6.9 boards, 6.3 assists, and 2.8 steals per game. 

Under coach Jackson’s rookie year, the Bulls made quick work of the Bucks and 76ers in the first two rounds but were defeated by the Pistons in seven games. Throughout the Playoffs, Jordan averaged a remarkable 36.7 points, 7.2 boards, 6.8 assists, and 2.8 steals a game on 51.4% shooting. 


Regardless of a tough Conference finals loss, the Bulls kept their confidence and returned next year better than ever. After finishing with 61 wins in the 1990-91 regular season, Jordan and Co. finally triumphed over the Pistons before winning their first NBA Championship. The rest, as we know, is Basketball’s glorious history.          


ALSO READ: Anthony Edwards Reacts to Comparison With Michael Jordan; Makes Bold Statement.     

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