DAR Sports Retrospective: 1991 NBA Finals- Bulls vs Lakers

By @TrueGodImmortal

There are moments that mark the beginning of a legacy. There are moments that solidify it. For Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time, this was the moment that truly solidified it. While Michael Jordan had already been a beast in his own right, he had faced a wall that he couldn't get around: The Detroit Pistons. As the 1991 playoffs began, the Chicago Bulls looked focused and ready, as did the Los Angeles Lakers. Led by the legendary Magic Johnson and James Worthy, the Lakers faced a challenge in the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trailblazers. The Lakers were still pretty much in the Showtime era, and with a sound defeat of the Trailblazers 4-2, it seemed like they might have a shot at another championship. The Bulls, having suffered at the hands of the Detroit Pistons for years, swept the Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals, signaling a new change. The era of the Bad Boys was now over, and the Bulls dynasty seemed imminent for the Eastern Conference. The stage was set.

Jordan vs Magic. Lakers vs Bulls. Who would walk away with the NBA Championship??

Starting lineups featured Vlade Divac, Sam Perkins, Byron Scott, James Worthy, and of course Magic for the Lakers. The Bulls starting lineup featured Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, John Paxson, Scottie Pippen, and of course, Jordan.

Game 1 would be very interesting to watch, as Jordan dominated out the gate with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in the first quarter alone, but the Lakers would turn the tide and command a lead going into the 4th quarter. Jordan, once again determined, helped the Bulls mount a comeback with 13 points in the quarter, as Pippen hit free throws to give the Bulls a 91-89 lead. However, Sam Perkins would connect on a three pointer to give the Lakers the lead and the eventual 93-91 victory. It would be the only time in this series that the Lakers would celebrate a victory.

Game 2 was a different situation, as Jordan ending up guarding Divac and Pippen was put on Magic, and Magic could only connect for 14 points the entire game. Jordan shined bright in this game with 33 points and 13 assists, and the Bulls evened up the series with a 107-86 win.

Game 3 proved to be up and down for both teams, as the Lakers went on an 18-2 run to give them a 13 point lead, before allowing the Bulls to come back with a 20-7 run to tie the game up. The Lakers had a 2 point lead within the last 30 seconds of the game, but Jordan provides a clutch shot to send the game into overtime. In overtime, Jordan shines, giving the Bulls a 104-96 win, and a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 saw the Lakers in a tough spot, and they came out swinging, keeping the game close and even holding a lead early on. As the 4th quarter began, the Bulls were ahead by a decent margin, but The Lakers played hard and cut it to 7, but would never get any closer than that. The Bulls took a 3-1 series lead with a 97-82 victory, putting them one step closer to a NBA championship.

Game 5 would be the most interesting to me, as the Lakers played their heart out, but came up just a little short. Jordan had a good game here, but the real story here belongs to Pippen and John Paxson. Pippen scored 32 points and had 13 rebounds, putting in an amazing performance in a crucial game, while Paxson scored 10 points in the final half of the 4th quarter to solidify the win for the Bulls and give them a NBA Title. One thing that has to be spoke on for the Lakers is the sensational play by Magic Johnson here as he racked up 20 assists and 11 rebounds. However, despite Magic playing his ass off, the Lakers would lose 108-101, and the Bulls began the celebration right in the Forum. This was the last appearance for Magic in the NBA Finals and the last NBA Finals game to be played in the Forum as well.

What was significant about this NBA Finals is what it represents. It was the next era. This was the first NBA Finals to be telecast on NBC, and we would see later on that the relationship between the two would prove fruitful. This NBA finals marked the end of the Showtime era and the true beginning of the Jordan era. Of course, Jordan and the Bulls dynasty would capture a total of 6 championships in the 90s, but this is where it all began.



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