By the time February 1990 rolled around, the only thing Michael Jordan had yet to accomplish on a basketball court was to win a NBA championship.

The perennial All-Star and MVP candidate routinely dazzled with aerial dunking displays since his first pro game in 1984. He led the league in scoring multiple times, won MVP, won Defensive Player of the Year, scored 63 points in a playoff game at the Boston Garden, and crushed the souls of entire fanbases with clutch game-winning shots. Jordan’s legend was ascending to its apex, only to be swatted down to Earth during some particularly brutal playoff matchups with the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons.

Jordan would drag teams by his bare hands into slugfests against Detroit in three consecutive playoffs (before eventually sweeping them in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals). The “Jordan Rules” were implemented by Detroit’s group of grizzled vets, and Jordan routinely took a beating, getting pushed and shoved to the ground with regularity on drives into the paint.

But Jordan was relentless, and despite being repeatedly rebuffed in the playoffs against Detroit heading into 1990, Jordan kept coming back, adding to and tweaking his already stellar offensive arsenal, ready to attack from all angles with the magnitude of an Air Force fleet.

It worked. During the 1989-90 season, Michael Jordan hit 92 three-pointers while wearing the Jordan V. He had only hit 68 threes in all prior seasons combined. While that is maybe a league average number of makes in today’s game, it was indicative of Jordan’s incessant work ethic. Always looking for an edge, always looking to add another weapon to his already unstoppable arsenal.

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