The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was also the first NBA Finals.
The Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference took on the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Convention for the name, with Chicago having home court edge. It was Michael Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, Magic Johnson’s last, and the final NBA Finals for the Lakers before 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 series wasn’t the first time that Lakers and the Bulls confronted at the playoffs. Prior to 1991, they met 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 end 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 led 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 retired two seasons before. The Bulls, led by NBA MVP Michael Jordan and superstar small forward Scottie Pippen, could win five championships after 1991 at a seven-year interval, cementing their status as a dynasty.
When 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 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 Finals experience. Not one of the Bulls players had logged a minute of NBA Finals experience prior to this.
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