The 1991 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1990–91 NBA season. It was also the very first NBA Finals.
The Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference took about the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Convention for the name, together with Chicago having home court edge. It was Michael Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, Magic Johnson’s last, and also the final NBA Finals for the Lakers until 2000. 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 en route to his first NBA Finals MVP Award.
The show wasn’t the first time that the Bulls and Lakers confronted at the playoffs. Before 1991, they met four postseason series (1968, 1971, 1972 and 1973), all Lakers victories. Chicago was a member of the Western Conference at the time and moved to the East in 1981. The 1991 Finals marked 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 fight for the rest of the 1990s before winning five championships involving the 2000-2002 and 2009-2010 seasons.
The 1991 Lakers were led by Johnson, who was 32 and playing in what would be his last full season, as well as fellow All-Star teammate James Worthy; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had two seasons earlier. The Bulls, led by NBA MVP Michael Jordan and superstar small forward Scottie Pippen, would acquire five 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 final group to win an NBA championship despite having a full roster lacking in championship or Finals experience. Not one of the Bulls players had logged a minute of NBA Finals experience prior to this.