Michael Jordan Was So Spectacular That He Had Teammate Convinced He Stopped Playing Basketball Starting in 2nd Championship Season: ‘He Was Just Playing a Different Game Than the Rest of Us’
After winning his first championship in 1991 over the Los Angeles Lakers, Michael Jordan became further motivated to win more titles with the Chicago Bulls. The feeling of capturing the Larry O’Brien trophy can be addicting to players, and Jordan certainly wanted to experience that high again.
Throughout the course of NBA history, many teams have endured a championship hangover after winning the Finals. However, not only did the Bulls win more games in 1991-92 than they did in 1990-91, but Jordan also convinced a teammate that he never played basketball anymore.
B.J. Armstrong: I felt Michael Jordan never played basketball anymore starting in 1991-92
Jordan won his third regular-season MVP in 1991-92. He averaged 30.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 6.1 assists while shooting 51.9% from the field. The Bulls superstar was so dominant on both sides of the floor that B.J. Armstrong felt His Airness was playing a different game than everyone else.
“Starting with that season, I felt Michael Jordan never played basketball anymore,” Armstrong said in Episode 5 of The Last Dance docuseries. “He just figured out how to win the game. He knew how to steer momentum. He knew how to get guys going. And not only was he that good on the offensive end, he was just as good on the defensive end. So he was just playing a different game than the rest of us. He’d led us play, but he was there to win the game, and he knew that, and once he figured that out, you couldn’t beat him.”
Jordan led the Bulls to 67 wins in 1991-92. They defeated the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1992 Eastern Conference playoffs to advance to their second consecutive Finals, where the Portland Trail Blazers stood in their way of a second straight title.
As Armstrong said, it was nearly impossible to defeat Jordan, and the Blazers found that out the hard way.
Michael Jordan averaged 35.8 points in ’92 Finals
Jordan torched the Blazers in the ’92 Finals. He averaged 35.8 points and attacked Clyde Drexler every night since pundits compared the Portland guard to him. The Bulls won the series in six games, with Jordan winning Finals MVP.
“I can’t really express the way I feel right now. We withstood the challenge of trying to repeat,” Jordan said after winning the ’92 title. “A lot of teams threw everything they had at us, and it was a long year. We went through a long test of adversity, me as an individual and us as a team. But we stood tall at the end.”
Most players would relax and enjoy their summer after winning back-to-back championships and Finals MVPs. However, Jordan had to lace up his basketball shoes for Team USA in the Barcelona Olympics, and he showed no signs of fatigue.
Dream Team easily won gold medal
The Dream Team comfortably won the gold medal at the ’92 Olympics. They defeated Croatia in the gold medal game by a final score of 117-85. That was their closest outing in Barcelona.
Jordan started all eight Olympic games. He averaged 14.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 4.1 steals. The Bulls legend won two gold medals during his career. He is one of two players to win regular-season MVP, Finals MVP, and a gold medal in the same year. LeBron James is the other player to accomplish that feat.
With the Bulls, Jordan went on to win six rings, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, and 10 scoring titles. He’s first in NBA history in points per game and player efficiency rating and is widely viewed as the greatest player of all time.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.