The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was also the very first NBA Finals.
The Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference took on the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference for the name, with Chicago having home court advantage. 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 about 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 wasn’t the first time that Lakers and the Bulls faced off at 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 moved to the East in 1981. The 1991 Finals indicated the first time the Bulls defeated the Lakers in a playoff series.
This series would mark this Lakers Showtime era’s conclusion and the beginning of the Bulls’ dynasty. After winning five championships in eight finals appearances in the 1980s, the Lakers would fight 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 acting in what could be his last full season, in addition to fellow All-Star teammate James Worthy; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had retired two seasons earlier. The Bulls, led by NBA MVP Michael Jordan and celebrity small forward Scottie Pippen, could win five more championships after 1991 at a seven-year span, cementing their status as a dynasty.
As it was all said and done, Michael Jordan became only 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 exact same season.
Until 2015, the Bulls were the last team to win an NBA championship despite having a complete roster lacking in championship or Finals experience. None of the Bulls players had logged even a minute of NBA Finals experience before this.
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