The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was the first NBA Finals broadcast by NBC after 17 years with CBS.
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 last, and the final 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 the Bulls and Lakers faced off at the playoffs. Prior to 1991, they met four postseason series (1968, 1971, 1972 and 1973), all Lakers victories. Chicago was a member of the Western Conference at the moment and proceeded to the East in 1981. The first time the Bulls defeated the Lakers was indicated by the 1991 Finals.
This series would mark this Lakers Showtime era’s end and the start 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 involving the 2000-2002 and 2009-2010 seasons.
The 1991 Lakers were led by Johnson, who was 32 and acting in what could be his last 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 acquire five more championships after 1991 in a seven-year span, cementing their status as a dynasty.
As it was all said and done, Michael Jordan became just the third person in NBA history (later George Mikan and Abdul-Jabbar) to catch the scoring title and the NBA Finals Championship in the same season.
Until 2015, the Bulls were the final team 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 before this.
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