1991 NBA Finals
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 title, together with Chicago having home court edge. 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 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 series wasn’t the first time that Lakers and the Bulls confronted in the playoffs. Before 1991, they met four postseason series (1968, 1971, 1972 and 1973), all Lakers successes. Chicago was a part of the Western Conference at the moment and proceeded to the East in 1981. The 1991 Finals indicated the first time the Bulls defeated the Lakers.
This series would indicate this 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 between the 2000-2002 and 2009-2010 seasons.
The 1991 Lakers were led by Johnson, who was 32 and acting in what would be his last full season, as well as fellow All-Star teammate James Worthy; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had retired two seasons earlier. The Bulls, led by NBA MVP Michael Jordan and superstar small forward Scottie Pippen, would acquire 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 just the third man 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 having a complete roster lacking in championship or Finals experience. Not one of the Bulls players had logged even a moment of NBA Finals experience prior to this.