The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was also the first NBA Finals broadcast by NBC after 17 years with CBS.
The Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference took on the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Convention for the name, with Chicago having home court edge. It was Michael Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, Magic Johnson’s last, and also the last NBA Finals for the Lakers until 2000. The Bulls would win the series. Jordan averaged 31.2 points on 56% shooting, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 1.4 blocks en route to his first NBA Finals MVP Award.
The series wasn’t the first time that the Bulls and Lakers confronted in the playoffs. Before 1991, they met for four postseason series (1968, 1971, 1972 and 1973), all Lakers victories. Chicago was a member of the Western Conference at the time and proceeded into the East in 1981. The first time the Bulls defeated the Lakers was marked by the 1991 Finals.
This series would indicate the end of the Lakers Showtime era and the beginning of the Bulls’ dynasty. After winning five championships in eight finals appearances in the 1980s, the Lakers would struggle for the remaining 1990s before winning five championships involving the 2000-2002 and 2009-2010 seasons.
The 1991 Lakers were headed by Johnson, who was 32 and playing what could be his last full season, as well as fellow All-Star teammate James Worthy; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had retired two seasons before. The Bulls, led by NBA MVP Michael Jordan and celebrity small forward Scottie Pippen, could acquire five championships after 1991 in a seven-year span, cementing their status as a dynasty.
As it was all said and done, Michael Jordan became just the third man in NBA history (after George Mikan and Abdul-Jabbar) to capture the scoring name and the NBA Finals Championship in precisely the exact same season.
Until 2015, the Bulls were the last team to win an NBA championship despite fielding a full roster lacking in championship or championship experience. Not one of the Bulls players had logged a minute of NBA Finals experience.
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