Revisiting Pistons' Jordan Rules and the Lowest Moment of MJ's Career

Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan vs Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan vs Detroit Pistons / Focus On Sport/Getty Images

In the NBA, it isn't rare for teams to develop gameplans tailored to stop opposing stars. In the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, the Toronto Raptors protected the paint and forced the ball out of Giannis Antetokounmpo's hands in order to win the series over the Milwaukee Bucks. In the Finals, they employed a box-and-one defense to stop Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors and win the title.

Nonetheless, what the Detroit Pistons did to MJ was next level.

Chicago Bulls star shooting guard Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest to ever do it, but the Pistons stopped him in his tracks. Their defense, lead by guards Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, played Jordan extremely physically to tire him out over the course of a series.

Additionally, the Pistons took away the baseline and forced Jordan center, where multiple defenders would be waiting. Detroit also forced Jordan left, a direction he had less success driving in, and threw double teams at him almost every time he touched the ball.

Their plan even extended to when they were on offense, as they would focus their offense around whoever Jordan was guarding in order to tire him out even faster.

The Pistons found success against Jordan early in his career, defeating him in the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals, and the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals. They were MJ's kryptonite.

As good as the Pistons defense was at stopping Jordan, it couldn't hold him forever. In the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan and the Bulls swept the Pistons. He would go on to win the first of his six NBA Championships that year, and the rest was history.

Although Jordan eventually overcame the challenge the Detroit Pistons posed, no team ever gave him nearly as much trouble as the "Bad Boys."