Odds are, if you’re born during or after the mid-80’s, the Jordan Rules are something you heard about but didn’t fully understand until you got older. The mantra’s often highlighted by hacking and dirty plays off the ball at Michael Jeffrey Jordan’s expense. However there’s far more to it then just wailing at ‘ol cheese eyes. You’ve probably seen it in closer detail thanks to reruns on ESPN Classic. However now, thanks to YouTube, you’ll get a more tempered breakdown of just how the Bad Boy Pistons contained MJ and the Bulls for three straight postseasons.
Chuck Daly’s clever use of spacing stifled Jordan’s otherwise free reign over the back court. Notice how the Pistons were able to quickly converge on Jordan whenever he got in the paint. They also feigned double teams off the ball which effectively let them get away with illegal defense.
Pay attention to the hand checking and spacing as well. Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars took turns forcing Jordan out of this comfort zones along the perimeter, anticipated his isos with probing weak side help and, whenever MJ drove, Bill Laimbeer became a 6’11” human “NO” sign inside. James Edwards filled in for the same duty when Bill Laimbeer took a breather or in tandem: essentially making easy shots very few and far between.
Another point obviously worth noting is the overall physicality of the game back then. Hand checking is one thing but the follow through on the fouls and “contact” off the ball looks alarming in hindsight. NBA Basketball was a different beast back then and the game simply can’t be played the same way today. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you. Nonetheless, this video gives a valuable look at how Detroit became Chicago’s playoff road block in the late 80’s.