Michael Jordan Didn’t Want to Face Magic Johnson and the Lakers in His First NBA Finals: ‘Magic Is so Smart in Those Situations’

Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls faced Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. It was a highly anticipated series since Jordan and Johnson were two of the best players in the league.

Jordan is one of the most competitive superstars in NBA history. He always enjoyed competing against the best and took his game to another level.

However, many fans tend to forget that the Bulls legend didn’t want to face Magic and the Lakers in his first NBA Finals.

Michael Jordan and the Bulls defeated the Pistons to reach their first Finals

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Jordan and the Bulls faced the Detroit Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. They had homecourt advantage in the series and were motivated to defeat their archnemesis.

The Bulls easily won Games 1 and 2 to take a 2-0 lead. Game 3 was the most competitive game of the series. Chicago only won by six, with Jordan scoring a game-high 33 points.

Game 4 was the most memorable contest of the series. The Bulls won 115-94, and the Pistons walked off the floor before the game was over and didn’t shake the Chicago player’s hands. Jordan lost all respect for Isiah Thomas and Co. after that game.

The 1991 Western Conference Finals featured the Lakers taking on the Portland Trail Blazers. While the series was still going on, Jordan sat down with Pat Riley for an interview and admitted he wanted the Blazers to defeat the Lakers.

Michael Jordan preferred to face the Blazers over Magic Johnson and the Lakers

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Jordan told Riley that he preferred to face the Blazers over the Lakers in the Finals since Johnson and Co. had already won five championships. The Bulls shooting guard wanted to face the Blazers since they had no championship experience.

“I’d much rather face Portland being that the Lakers got all the experience,” Jordan said. “They’ve been there many times. They got the players. Magic is so smart in those situations. Portland hasn’t won like we haven’t. I think everybody wants to see me play against Magic. If we get to that Magic Johnson-Michael Jordan thing, you take away from my teammates.”

Jordan didn’t get his wish, as the Lakers defeated the Blazers in six games to reach the Finals. The Bulls were the heavy underdogs in the ’91 Finals since Johnson and LA had a plethora of championship experience.

However, Chicago didn’t back down and rode the shoulders of MJ and Scottie Pippen.

The Bulls beat the Lakers in five games

Behind Jordan and Pippen, the Bulls defeated the Lakers in five games to capture their first NBA championship. Chicago lost Game 1 at home by two points but dominated Games 2-5.

Jordan averaged 31.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game and won Finals MVP. He hugged Johnson after Game 5 and was in tears because he was so happy he finally won a title.

Johnson finished his Hall of Fame career with five championships, three Finals MVPs, and three regular-season MVPs. He averaged 19.5 points and 11.2 assists in 906 games with the Lakers.

Meanwhile, Jordan won six rings, six Finals MVPs, and five regular-season MVPs with the Bulls. He’s the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game with an average of 30.1 and won 10 scoring titles.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.