The 1986-87 NBA season was a magical one for Michael Jordan. Even though the Chicago Bulls got swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the ’87 playoffs, Jordan averaged a career-high 37.1 points per game in the regular season while shooting 48.2% from the field.
The 1987 Finals featured the Los Angeles Lakers and Celtics. The series began on June 2, 1987, and was won by the Lakers in six games.
Before the Finals started, Jordan did an interview with Bryant Gumbel and showed off his basketball wizardry by correctly predicting everything about the series.
Michael Jordan picked the Celtics to beat the Pistons while the series was still going on
Jordan told Gumbel the Celtics would defeat the Detroit Pistons after taking a 3-2 series lead. Boston won Game 5 at home in thrilling fashion after Larry Bird stole an inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas and passed the ball to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup with one second left in regulation.
The Celtics won the series in seven games. After watching them win Game 5, Jordan knew Boston would close it out.
“Boston. I think that game last night really gave Boston momentum,” Jordan said. “They know that they’re one game away, and they’re gonna be playing hard.”
The Pistons won Game 6 at home to force Game 7. Boston won the decisive contest by three behind 37 points from Bird, setting up the Celtics-Lakers Finals everyone hoped for.
Even though Jordan was excited to watch Bird and Magic Johnson clash in the Finals again, he knew the Lakers would win the championship before anyone else did.
Michael Jordan viewed the Lakers as an unstoppable force
Before the Celtics defeated the Pistons to advance to the Finals, Jordan picked the Lakers to win it all. He told Gumbel that neither Boston nor Detroit could take out LA.
“Lakers are really hungry,” Jordan said. “Right now, they got more rest than the Pistons and the Celtics. Kareem’s gonna come back. That rest really helps him out, and Magic is playing very, very well this year. They got so many combinations. You can stop James Worthy, then you gotta stop Magic and Cooper and Byron Scott. They just got a lot of weapons.”
The Lakers defeated the Celtics, with Johnson winning Finals MVP by averaging 26.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 13.0 assists. Everything Jordan predicted came true, which isn’t a surprise since he was a student of the game.
Chicago didn’t get to the Finals until 1991, as they had difficulty getting past the Pistons in the East. However, once the Bulls did reach the Finals, Jordan never looked back.
His Airness went 6-0 in the Finals
Jordan and the Bulls swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals to reach their first NBA Finals. They faced Johnson and the Lakers and had home-court advantage in the series.
The Lakers won Game 1 in Chicago, and everyone thought they would sweep the Bulls. However, Jordan and Scottie Pippen took their games to another level and led Chicago to four straight wins to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
After defeating the Lakers, the Bulls beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the ’92 Finals and the Phoenix Suns in the ’93 Finals. Jordan then led them to three more titles in ’96, ’97, and ’98 after returning to the NBA following his brief baseball career.