Michael Jordan

Is Michael Jordan's 1987-88 DPOY justified? New report claims Bulls legend's stats were falsified

Yahoo Sports dove deep into Jordan's breathtaking statistics from his DPOY season

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From the 1987-88 season, Bulls legend Michael Jordan added an imperative bullet point to his loaded résumé, winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year award.

Not only did he solidify himself as the league's best offensive player and scorer, but he rounded out the arguments about his all-encompassing abilities by earning himself the title of the NBA's best defensive player. No player has ever led the league in scoring and won the title as the league's best defensive player in the same season.

But is Jordan's defensive accolade justified? Yahoo Sports Tim Haberstroh recently pulled the curtain back on statistical issues from Jordan's monstrous 1987 season. They claim some of his statistics were falsified from a homer bias.

In essence, the long-form story explains the stark contrast between Jordan's defensive statistics at home versus on the road. They're appalling. The disparity between blocks and steals between home and away games is a whopping 182% difference.

During that 1987-88 season, Jordan recorded 165 steals at home and 94 on the road. The 71-steal gap blew away that season's competition, with the closest gap to Jordan's being 47 steals from Alvin Robertson's splits.

Jordan's blocks at home that season ballooned to 87, too, which is much higher than the 47 blocks he recorded on the road. His home blocks finished 8th in the NBA, while his road blocks ranked 21st in the league.

Jordan averaged an Earth-shattering 4 steals and 2.1 blocks at home that season. But on the road, those numbers were nearly cut in half, to 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.

Jordan's stocks (steals and blocks numbers combined) finished at a whopping 5.5 per 36 minutes at home compared to 3.0 on the road. To eliminate the variable of playing time on the road versus at home, using 36-minute statistics helps cover the playing time factor.

As aforementioned, Jordan's 182% disparity between home and road stocks represents a massive change in numbers. No winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award came close to that disparity. The closest is Mark Eaton's DPOY award from the 1988-89 season, recording a 159% disparity.

At the time, Bob Rosenberg was the official scorekeeper at the United Center for Bulls games. He was a homer and the king of scorekeeping. He kept official statistics during games not only for the Bulls but also the White Sox, Bears and Blackhawks. He did it all.

Shortly after he started working for the Bulls, Jordan would often visit him at the scorer's table when checking into a game. And he quickly found out why.

“The first week Jordan played for the Bulls, scorer Bob Rosenberg looked up to find him studying the scorebook every time he reported to the table to re-enter the game," Chicago AP writer Jim Litke wrote in 1999. "It didn’t take long to figure out why. By knowing everybody’s point and rebound totals, Jordan knew how the newspaper stories the next day would begin. Then he took the floor and made sure they always began the same way: ‘Michael Jordan …’”

Rosenberg openly admitted to the Chicago Tribune he would often signal to Jordan to help him chase statistics. He even recounted a time when Jordan chastised him in 1988 for not signaling him about being within two points of Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star game record of 42 points. Jordan finished with 40.

Rosenberg, while admitting to helping Jordan's stat padding, denies he ever falsified numbers to give Jordan a boost on the stat sheet. Multiple reports then also accused Rosenberg of stat padding for Guy Rodgers' assist numbers and Dennis Rodman's rebound numbers.

According to the story, if one watched the Bulls-Nets game from January 29, 1988, you could see the falsified numbers in action. The stat sheet says Jordan recorded a whopping 10 steals during the game. But Haberstroh claims three turnovers by the Nets were credited to Jordan, even though they came in the form of dead-ball turnovers i.e. traveling, offensive fouls, out-of-bounds, etc.

It's an eye-opening case, as Jordan is often used as the archetype for greatness in the NBA. Certainly, even in today's NBA and modern sports world, statistics can often drive and sway an argument.

Jordan led the league in steals in three separate seasons. He also has nine All-Defensive team nods to his name, along with his coveted DPOY award.

The old adage is "Numbers don't lie." But, do they? After winning the 1987-88 DPOY award, even Jordan supported that notion with this zinger to the Tribune.

“Leading the league in steals certainly helped.”

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