The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was also the very first NBA Finals broadcast by NBC after 17 years with CBS.
The Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference took about the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Convention for the title, with Chicago having home court advantage. It was Michael Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, Magic Johnson’s final, and the last NBA Finals for the Lakers until 2000. The Bulls would win the series, 4-1. 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 show was not 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 moment and proceeded to the East in 1981. The first time the Bulls defeated the Lakers in a playoff series was marked by the 1991 Finals.
This series would indicate this Lakers Showtime era’s end and the start 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 between the 2000-2002 and 2009-2010 seasons.
The 1991 Lakers were headed by Johnson, who was 32 and playing in what would be his last full season, in addition to fellow All-Star teammate James Worthy; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had two seasons earlier. The Bulls, led by NBA MVP Michael Jordan and superstar small forward Scottie Pippen, could win five championships after 1991 at a seven-year span, cementing their status as a dynasty.
When it was all said and done, Michael Jordan became just the third person in NBA history (later George Mikan and Abdul-Jabbar) to catch the scoring name and the NBA Finals Championship in precisely the same season.
Until 2015, the Bulls were the last group to win an NBA championship despite fielding a complete roster lacking in championship or championship experience. Not one of the Bulls players had logged a minute of NBA Finals experience before this.
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