On June 12th, 1991…The Chicago Bulls won their first NBA championship title by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in a 4-1 finals matchup that showcased the battle between two basketball icons Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.
Twenty three years ago, the Chicago Bulls were led by their superstar player who wore the famous number 23 jersey, and brought the Larry O’Brien trophy to the city of Chicago for the first time as the sweat and champagne drenched Michael Jordan and his teammates as they celebrated their accomplishment in the visitor’s locker room at the Great Western Forum.
“I’m numb… I don’t know what to do. I want to enjoy this, it’s such a great feeling. I’ve never been this emotional in public…” said Michael Jordan in an interview moments after being crowned champions.
After winning his second regular season MVP award and his fifth consecutive scoring title, Michael Jordan made his NBA Finals debut. The then 28-year-old Jordan displayed his greatness with remarkable highlights that will forever be remembered. Jordan was seen flying through the air with his tongue out while switching hands in the middle of a layup that got Bulls fans cheering in his famous layup that has been replayed on every NBA Finals highlight reel since. Jordan averaged 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals which earned him his first Finals MVP award.
Led by head coach Phil Jackson, the Bulls were the number one seed in the East. They cruised past the Eastern Conference by beating the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers and the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons.
The Bulls were able to stop Magic Johnson and company on their quest to win an NBA championship with first-year head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., who succeeded former Lakers head coach Pat Riley. After losing on their home court, the Lakers’ Showtime era came to an end against Jordan and the Bulls in 1991. That following year, Magic Johnson made his announcement that shocked the sports world. Johnson retired on November 7th, 1991 after receiving the news that he has HIV.
The 1991 NBA Finals represented the end of one era and the beginning of another. As the Los Angeles Lakers struggled in the following years, the Chicago Bulls began their dynasty with their superstar MVP Michael Jordan who would eventually engrave his name and team in basketball history.
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