After losing to the Detroit Pistons in back-to-back years in 1989 and 1990, the Chicago Bulls finally were able to make the NBA Finals. The infamous “Jordan Rules” were formed in those losses, but Michael Jordan made it his mission to be able to withstand the physicality the Pistons brought. Making it to their first NBA Finals was going to be difficult but a challenge that everyone was willing to accept and overcome.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Bulls faced off against a very young New York Knicks team. They had no issues handling Patrick Ewing and Co., winning the series with a combined point differential of +60. This was a huge momentum swing for the Bulls leading into the semi-finals, where they would face.
The Philadelphia 76ers were led by perennial all-star Charles Barkley. The Round Mound of Rebound was having the best season of his career thus far, but it was unfortunately not enough to stop Michael Jordan. Despite Jordan scoring 46 points in Game 3, the Bulls did lose that game but won games 4 and 5 to close out the series.
The Bulls then faced the inevitable, the reigning Eastern Conference champions and the reigning NBA Champions, the Pistons. The built-up anger and frustration that the Bulls had were more than enough to get past the Pistons. In fact, the Bulls were just flat-out DOMINANT this series. Sweeping Detroit, Jordan averaged 29.75 points in the 4 games, as they won 3 out of the 4 games by more than 10 points.
1991 NBA Finals
Finally, the great Michael Jordan was in the NBA Finals for the first time ever, and he did NOT disappoint.
Despite the loss in Game 1, Jordan still had a great game. His team was not much help as the only other scorer in double digits was Scottie Pippen. Meanwhile, for the Los Angeles Lakers, the great Magic Johnson had himself a great night with a triple-double, and 4 out of the 5 starters for the Lakers were in double digits. The Lakers edged the Bulls 93-91 on the road to take a 1-0 series lead.
However, the script was flipped in Game 2 for sure. The Bulls starting five was absolutely on FIRE all night long. Jordan had 33 points, Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen had 20 apiece, and John Paxson had 16 points. However, with all the points they scored, that wasn’t the entire story in Game 2. The Bulls showed why they were the better team with their speed, athleticism, and defense. The Lakers were almost shell-shocked with the series tied at 1-1 going out west to Los Angeles.
Game 3 did not go as well as the Bulls wanted it to go. The Lakers kept it close nearly the entire game up until the overtime period. Jordan was held to just 29 points (like that’s a bad thing). The Bulls pulled away in OT with a 12-4 run to put them up 2-1 in the series.
Game 4 was an exceptional game for Jordan, he led the team with 28 points, but he got the other 4 starters involved as well, with 13 assists. All 5 starters for the Bulls were in double digits points, and that allowed them to get off to a quick start. The Lakers were looking defeated, as Magic Johnson and Vlade Divac were the only 2 people to score 20+ points and, realistically, the only 2 players that were ready to hoop that night.
The critical closeout game 5 was slipping out of the Bulls’ hands early in the 2nd half. But a heroic performance from Jordan and Pippen, who both scored 30+ points, was more than enough. The Lakers put up a solid fight in Game 5, but the Bulls proved to the world that they were the better team and clinched their first-ever NBA Finals win in franchise history. If only they knew what would come within the next decade.
This was just the start of the Bulls Dynasty, and the beginning of Michael Jordan’s championship runs.
Akshay is a rising senior at the University of Miami. He is studying Marketing with a minor in Sports Administration. He is joining Knup Solutions with hopes of being able to contribute to the team at a high level, with his great attention to detail and perfectionist personality. He has done recreational freelance work for online gaming and sports previously and is excited to use his skills in the real world.