The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was the first NBA Finals.
The Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference took on the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference for the name, together with Chicago having home court advantage. It was Michael Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, Magic Johnson’s final, and also 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 was not the first time that the Bulls and Lakers faced off in the playoffs. Prior to 1991, they met for four postseason series (1968, 1971, 1972 and 1973), all Lakers successes. Chicago was a member of the Western Conference at the time and moved to the East in 1981. The 1991 Finals indicated the first time the Bulls defeated the Lakers.
This series would mark 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 struggle 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 what would be his final full season, in addition to fellow All-Star teammate James Worthy; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 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.
When it was all said and done, Michael Jordan became just the third man in NBA history (later George Mikan and Abdul-Jabbar) to capture the scoring title 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. Not one of the Bulls players had logged a minute of NBA Finals experience before this.
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