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 about the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference for the title, with Chicago having home court edge. It was Michael Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, Magic Johnson’s final, and also the final NBA Finals for the Lakers before 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 was not 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 part of the Western Conference at the time and proceeded into the East in 1981. The 1991 Finals indicated the first time the Bulls defeated the Lakers in a playoff series.
This series would indicate the Lakers Showtime era’s conclusion and the start of the Bulls’ dynasty. After winning five championships in eight finals appearances in the 1980s, the Lakers would fight for the rest of the 1990s before winning five championships involving the 2000-2002 and 2009-2010 seasons.
The 1991 Lakers were led by Johnson, who was 32 and acting what could be his last full season, as well as fellow All-Star teammate James Worthy; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had two seasons before. The Bulls, led by NBA MVP Michael Jordan and celebrity small forward Scottie Pippen, would win five more championships after 1991 in a seven-year span, cementing their status as a dynasty.
When 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 title and the NBA Finals Championship in the same season.
Until 2015, the Bulls were the last group to win an NBA championship despite fielding a full roster lacking in championship or Finals experience. None of the Bulls players had logged a minute of NBA Finals experience.
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