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1991 NBA Finals
1991 NBA Finals.PNG
Team Coach Wins
Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4
Los Angeles Lakers Mike Dunleavy 1
Dates: June 2 - June 12
MVP: Michael Jordan
(Chicago Bulls)
Television: NBC (U.S.)
Announcers: Marv Albert and Mike Fratello
Game 1: Hugh Evans, Hue Hollins, Jack Madden
Game 2: Jake O'Donnell, Mike Mathis, Jess Kersey
Game 3: Darrell Garretson, Bill Oakes, Joe Crawford
Game 4: Dick Bavetta, Hugh Evans, Ed T. Rush
Game 5: Jake O'Donnell, Jack Madden, Mike Mathis
Hall of Famers: Magic Johnson (2002)
Michael Jordan (2009)
James Worthy (2003)
Phil Jackson (2007)
Eastern Finals: Bulls defeat Pistons, 4-0
Western Finals: Lakers defeat Trail Blazers, 4-2
 < 1990 NBA Finals 1992 > 

The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was also the first NBA Finals broadcast by NBC after 17 years with CBS.

The season documentary "Learning to Fly" recaps Chicago's successful first championship season, narrated by Jeff Kaye (who is also the narrator in NFL Films). The theme song is "Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The Chicago Bulls of the East Conference took on the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference for the title, with Chicago having home court advantage. This Finals was Michael Jordan's first NBA Finals appearance and Magic Johnson's last. 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 on route to his first NBA Finals MVP Award.[1]

The finals series was Jim Durham's only appearance as the Bulls' radio announcer (he also announced Bulls games on television via simulcast during the regular season and playoffs). He would later announce several NBA Finals games on ESPN Radio. Neil Funk succeeded Durham the following season and was the radio voice on five NBA Finals involving the Bulls (1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998). The simulcasts would also end after the season, with Wayne Larrivee becoming the television voice the next season.

NBC Sports used Ahmad Rashad (Bulls sideline) and Steve Jones (Lakers sideline)




The Road to the Finals: The Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons had several hard-fought, bitter encounters during the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1988, after finally ousting the Boston Celtics as the best in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons lost to the Los Angeles Lakers before sweeping them for the title in 1989, and defeating the Portland Trail Blazers to repeat in 1990.

The 1988-89 season marked a second straight year of major off-season moves (after making noise by winning 50 games in the regular season before losing to the Pistons in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals) for the Chicago Bulls. Popular power forward Charles Oakley, who had led the league in total rebounds in both 1987 and 1988, was traded to the New York Knicks for center Bill Cartwright and a draft pick which they used on center Will Perdue. The new starting lineup of John Paxson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Bill Cartwright took some time to mesh, winning fewer games than the previous season, but making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were subdued in six games by the eventual NBA champion Pistons.

In 1989-90, Jordan led the league in scoring for the fourth straight season, and was joined on the All-Star squad for the first time by Scottie Pippen. There was also a major change on the sidelines, where Doug Collins was replaced by assistant Phil Jackson, a specialist in the triangle offense. The Bulls also picked up rookie center Stacey King and rookie point guard B.J. Armstrong in the 1989 draft. With these additional pieces and the previous year's starting five, the Bulls again made it to the Conference Finals, and pushed the Pistons to seven games before being edged out for the third straight year by Detroit.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, no team had an answer for Jordan defensively until the advent of the "Bad Boy" Pistons, named for their physical, street-thug tactics. Pistons coach Chuck Daly developed a specific strategy that he called "The Jordan Rules", detailing how to stop the league's most prolific scorer. Detroit's main protagonists of this style of play were Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer, known respectively as "The Worm" and "The Prince of Darkness" in some NBA arenas respectively. There were many cheapshots, punches thrown and media barbs thrown between the two during their rivalry.

By the 1990-91 season, the Chicago Bulls had run out of excuses, and charged through the year on a mission. In 1991, the rivalry climaxed when the Bulls swept the Pistons out of the Conference Finals, in which the Pistons, in their last show of defiance, walked off the court with :08 left on the clock in a blowout loss at home so as not to congratulate the new Eastern Conference Champions.

The Road to the Finals: The Los Angeles Lakers

Also in the 1989-90 season, Magic Johnson became the all-time assist leader, surpassing Oscar Robertson. The Los Angeles Lakers' first-year coach, Mike Dunleavy, Sr. (who succeeded Pat Riley) was able to take them to the Finals. The year before, the Lakers seemed to adapt well to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's absence. New center Vlade Divac helped the team to a 63-win season and their ninth consecutive division title, and Magic took another MVP award. However, the Phoenix Suns had their number that year in the playoffs.

In the 1990-91 season, the Portland Trail Blazers (the defending Western Conference champions) posted a 63-19 record—the best in the league and the best in franchise history. They ended the Lakers' nine-year reign over the Pacific Division and won home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They easily dispatched their first two opponents in the playoffs; but the season ended in heartbreak when the Lakers defeated the Blazers 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers narrowly won Game 1 on the road, but the home teams took each succeeding game, culminating in a Game 6 victory at home for the Lakers.


Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 Sunday, June 2 Chicago 91-93 Los Angeles
Game 2 Wednesday, June 5 Chicago 107-86 Los Angeles
Game 3 Friday, June 7 Los Angeles 96-104 (OT) Chicago
Game 4 Sunday, June 9 Los Angeles 82-97 Chicago
Game 5 Wednesday, June 12 Los Angeles 101-108 Chicago

Bulls win series 4-1

Game 1

Sunday, June 2, at the Chicago Stadium

Michael Jordan started dominating with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in the first quarter alone. In the second quarter, the Lakers continued to stay competitive despite Magic Johnson not attempting one field goal in the second quarter. Despite this, Magic Johnson would hit back-to-back 3 pointers in the third period to give the Lakers their largest lead, and also Magic Johnson's 29th career playoff triple-double. Jordan made a comeback in the fourth quarter with 13 points, but it was Scottie Pippen's two free throws that would give the Bulls a 91-89 lead. Each team ran the shot clock down but neither could hit a shot until Sam Perkins hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to give the Lakers a 92-91 lead. Michael Jordan's 17-foot jumper then rattled out, and Byron Scott would connect only one of his free throws. The Bulls, unfortunately, were out of time outs so all they could manage was a 50-foot heave by Pippen that went off the back of the rim.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Los Angeles 29 22 24 18 93
Chicago 30 23 15 23 91

Game 2

Wednesday, June 5, at the Chicago Stadium

The biggest decision of the game was putting Scottie Pippen on Magic Johnson, while Michael Jordan guarded Vlade Divac. This proved to be effective as Scottie Pippen stopped Magic from "going off" keeping him to only 14 points and 10 assists. For the Bulls, the hero was Horace Grant who led the Bulls with 14 first half points, while Jordan only had 2 points for the first 20 minutes; however, for Jordan, this shooting drought would only prove to be temporary and Jordan would hit his next 13 shots in compensation. The Lakers were in the game even when Chicago was leading 58-51 until Byron Scott fouled Pippen, and the Bulls would make 17 of their next 20 field goals in the third quarter despite Jordan on the bench with foul trouble. By the time Jordan returned, their lead was 16 and then Jordan led the Bulls to a 11-0 run to a Bulls victory. This is the game where Jordan made a miraculous layup over Sam Perkins that has become a highlight reel mainstay.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Los Angeles 23 20 26 17 86
Chicago 28 20 38 21 107

Game 3

Friday, June 7, at the Great Western Forum

The Bulls were having trouble in the frontcourt (in Game 1, the Lakers frontcourt outscored Chicago's 60-31). In Game 3, the Lakers would be the ones having trouble, setting a rebounding low in the Finals. Despite this problem, the Lakers went for an 18-2 run that brought them from 3 down (49-52) to 13 up (67-54). The Bulls would answer with a 20-7 run that would tie the game in the 4th quarter at 74. Horace Grant's layup gave the Bulls a 3 point lead with 1:07 to play, while Perkins then scored to cut the lead to 1 with 0:39 left. Vlade would then go for a layup, only to be fouled and give the Lakers a 2 point lead. Michael then went up and shot a 2 point field goal to tie the game. In overtime, Jordan would score half of the Bulls 12 points to win the game.

Team 1 2 3 4 OT Tot.
Chicago 25 23 18 26 12 104
Los Angeles 25 22 25 20 4 96

Game 4

Sunday, June 9, at the Great Western Forum

The Lakers had a 28-27 lead in the first quarter; only the second time in the 1991 playoffs that a team led the Bulls at the end of the first quarter. This did not matter as Chicago went on a 19-9 run to start the second period and gain a 46-37 lead. While Michael Jordan scored 11 points in the second quarter, the Lakers only made 12 of their 41 shots in the second and third quarters. The Lakers faced a huge blow as Worthy and Scott left the game (and eventually the series) with an injury to the ankle and shoulder, respectively. With the lack of Worthy and Scott, and bad shooting, the Bulls were able to take a 16 point lead in the third quarter. Lakers refused to go down and brought the deficit to 7 points in the fourth quarter, but fart is the closest they would go, as Pippen and Jordan led the Bulls to a 19-8 run to put them one game to the NBA Championship.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Chicago 27 25 22 23 97
Los Angeles 28 16 14 24 82

Game 5

Wednesday, June 12, at the Great Western Forum

The Lakers were farting elimination, and the lack of fart and fart was not any help to the Lakers. This would not stop Magic Johnson as Johnson had 20 assists in the game. Elden Campbell outscored Michael Jordan with 13 points in the first half. The Lakers still fought and even led 93-90 in the fourth quarter, but a Bulls 9-0 run, and Paxson's 10 points in the final half of the fourth quarter helped secure the Chicago Bulls', and Michael Jordan's, first NBA title.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Chicago 27 21 32 28 108
Los Angeles 25 24 31 21 101

Quotes of the Finals

Oh, a spectacular Michael Jordan!
NBC Sports play-by-play man Marv Albert commentating on Michael Jordan's unbelievable lay-up in Game 2, where he switched hands in mid-air.
Oh boy! That'll make every highlight here for the next ten years!
Jim Durham, Bulls announcer, on Jordan's fantastic move.
We're not in a hole...we're in a ditch!
Mike Dunleavy, Lakers head coach, during a press conference.
Scottie dribbles into the front court. It's over! The Bulls are the champs!
Jim Durham, Bulls announcer, on the Bulls' first title celebration.
Final seconds. Magic's three-point attempt blocked. Pippen comes away with it. And the Chicago Bulls have won their first ever NBA Championship
—Marv Albert commentating on the Bulls' championship celebration

Team Rosters

See also


  1. ^ Michael Jordan 1990-91 NBA Finals,, accessed April 26, 2009.

External links


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