The 1992 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1991–92 NBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The defending NBA champion and Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls took on the Western Conference champion Portland Trail Blazers for the title, with Chicago having home court advantage, as they had the best record in the NBA that season.
|Hall of Famers||Trail Blazers:|
Clyde Drexler (2004)
Michael Jordan (2009)
Scottie Pippen (2010)
Phil Jackson (2007)
Tex Winter (2011)
Rick Adelman (2021)
Dick Bavetta (2015)
Hugh Evans (2022)
Darell Garretson (2016)
|Eastern Finals||Bulls defeated Cavaliers, 4–2|
|Western Finals||Trail Blazers defeated Jazz, 4–2|
The two teams appeared headed to face each other for most of the season and comparisons were made between Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan throughout the season. A month earlier Sports Illustrated had even listed Drexler as Jordan's "No. 1 rival" on a cover the two appeared on together before the playoffs. The media, hoping to recreate a Magic Johnson–Larry Bird type rivalry in Jordan-Drexler, compared the two throughout the pre-Finals hype.
The Bulls went on to win the series in six games, becoming the fourth NBA team to win back-to-back championships after the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Detroit Pistons. Michael Jordan was named Finals Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, to go with his sixth straight regular season scoring title.
The Bulls won their first NBA championship the previous season, ushering in a new era in the league. Proving that their maiden championship was no fluke, the Bulls continued their dominance in the 1991–92 season, finishing with a 67–15 record, surpassing last season's record by six games. Jordan won his second consecutive MVP award with a 30.1 points/6.4 assists/6.1 rebounds season.
After easily sweeping the Miami Heat in the opening round, they encountered the New York Knicks, who were now coached by Pat Riley. The Knicks' hard-nosed style of play soon took its toll on the Bulls, but led by Jordan, they escaped in seven games. Up next were the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals, whom the Bulls had beaten in two prior postseason meetings. Despite facing a much-improved Cavaliers team, the Bulls were still too much to handle, and they won in six games.
With their co-tenants at Chicago Stadium, the Blackhawks, coached by Mike Keenan and captained by Dirk Graham, playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, it was an opportunity for both the Bulls and the Blackhawks to help the city of Chicago become the first city to have both NBA and NHL championships in the same year; unfortunately it was not to be, as the Blackhawks were swept at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Portland Trail BlazersEdit
The Trail Blazers were destined to meet the Bulls the previous year, having won a franchise record 63 games. The Los Angeles Lakers had other ideas, defeating Portland in six games of the conference finals.
Retaining the same core that led the Blazers to the finals in 1990, the team won the Pacific Division title with a 57–25 record. They took advantage of a weakened Lakers team that lost Magic Johnson to retirement earlier in the season, winning 3–1 in the first round. They followed that up with a five-game defeat of the Phoenix Suns in the second round, before booking another trip to the finals with a six-game elimination of the Utah Jazz in the conference finals.
The 1992 NBA Finals cemented the reputations of both Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler (placing the latter firmly in the former's shadow).
Road to the FinalsEdit
|Portland Trail Blazers (Western Conference champion)||Chicago Bulls (Eastern Conference champion)|
|Defeated the (8) Los Angeles Lakers, 3–1||First Round||Defeated the (8) Miami Heat, 3–0|
|Defeated the (4) Phoenix Suns, 4–1||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the (4) New York Knicks, 4–3|
|Defeated the (2) Utah Jazz, 4–2||Conference Finals||Defeated the (3) Cleveland Cavaliers, 4–2|
Regular season seriesEdit
The Chicago Bulls won both games in the regular season series:
November 29, 1991
|Chicago Bulls 116, Portland Trail Blazers 114 (2OT)|
Portland Trail BlazersEdit
|Game||Date||Road team||Result||Home team|
|Game 1||June 3||Portland Trail Blazers||89–122 (0–1)||Chicago Bulls|
|Game 2||June 5||Portland Trail Blazers||115–104 (OT) (1–1)||Chicago Bulls|
|Game 3||June 7||Chicago Bulls||94–84 (2–1)||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Game 4||June 10||Chicago Bulls||88–93 (2–2)||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Game 5||June 12||Chicago Bulls||119–106 (3–2)||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Game 6||June 14||Portland Trail Blazers||93–97 (2–4)||Chicago Bulls|
|Portland Trail Blazers 89, Chicago Bulls 122|
|Scoring by quarter: 30–33, 21–33, 17–38, 21–18|
|Pts: Drexler, Robinson 16 each
Rebs: Jerome Kersey 7
Asts: Clyde Drexler 7
|Pts: Michael Jordan 39|
Rebs: Pippen, Williams 9 each
Asts: Michael Jordan 11
|Chicago leads the series, 1–0|
Michael Jordan dominated from the beginning, breaking the record for most points in a first half in the playoffs once held by Elgin Baylor (Michael had 35, Baylor had 33). This included six first-half threes (also a record). It was after the sixth three-pointer that Jordan turned towards the broadcast table and famously shrugged to indicate his surprise. Jordan's shrug became a highlight reel mainstay. Portland held their final lead at 45–44 in the second quarter before Chicago went on a 22–6 run to grab a 66–51 halftime lead and take control. The Bulls finished with a 122–89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
|Portland Trail Blazers 115, Chicago Bulls 104 (OT)|
|Scoring by quarter: 31–23, 23–22, 16–32, 27–20, Overtime: 18–7|
|Pts: Clyde Drexler 26
Rebs: Buck Williams 14
Asts: Clyde Drexler 8
|Pts: Michael Jordan 39|
Rebs: Horace Grant 12
Asts: Jordan, Pippen 10 each
|Series tied, 1–1|
With the Blackhawks playing for the Stanley Cup when the Bulls reached the Finals, Game 2 would have had conflict with Game 6 of the Blackhawks' series, as both teams would have played on the same day at Chicago Stadium. However, the Blackhawks series ended in 4 games, so no rescheduling was needed.
Portland built an eight-point lead in the first quarter, and held a nine-point lead at the half. However, as in Game 1, their lead started to disappear as the Bulls made their run – Jordan scored 14 points while Paxson scored 9, taking a seven-point lead by the end of the third quarter. Chicago was looking to take a commanding 2–0 lead in the series when Clyde Drexler fouled out with 4:36 remaining. With the Bulls up by 10, Jordan started to lose his poise, committing a foul and then a technical foul. This helped Portland build a 15–5 run, pushing the game into overtime after Jordan narrowly missed at the buzzer. In overtime, Portland dominated, especially Ainge, who scored six points with one minute remaining as the Blazers won 115–104 – the Bulls' worst home defeat in an NBA Finals game.
|Chicago Bulls 94, Portland Trail Blazers 84|
|Scoring by quarter: 34–26, 20–19, 16–15, 24–24|
|Pts: Michael Jordan 26
Rebs: Grant, Pippen 8 each
Asts: Scottie Pippen 7
|Pts: Clyde Drexler 32|
Rebs: Jerome Kersey 12
Asts: Terry Porter 4
|Chicago leads the series, 2–1|
Chicago had lost home court advantage, but dominated Portland, holding them to numerous franchise playoff lows: 84 points in a game, 39 second-half points and 28 field goals. Chicago would go on a 30–13 run in the first half to gain a 44–30 lead which Portland would cut to three with 7:09 left in the third before the Bulls went to another 12–3 run. Portland would then go on a field goal drought, not scoring from the 4:33 mark in the third quarter until the 9:36 mark of the fourth, a 6:57 stretch.
|Chicago Bulls 88, Portland Trail Blazers 93|
|Scoring by quarter: 26–18, 22–27, 21–21, 19–27|
|Pts: Michael Jordan 32
Rebs: Horace Grant 10
Asts: Jordan, Pippen 6 each
|Pts: Drexler, Kersey 21 each|
Rebs: Kevin Duckworth 11
Asts: Clyde Drexler 9
|Series tied, 2–2|
Portland was still playing as they were during Game 3, not scoring for four minutes and finding themselves down 10–0. The Bulls were up 22–9 before the Blazers rallied and cut the deficit to three at the half, but found themselves down again in the third quarter. While Jordan scored 13 points in the third quarter, he would not score in the game's final 10:26. Portland went on a 15–6 run to even the series at two games apiece.
|Chicago Bulls 119, Portland Trail Blazers 106|
|Scoring by quarter: 39–26, 27–28, 28–24, 25–28|
|Pts: Michael Jordan 46
Rebs: Scottie Pippen 11
Asts: Scottie Pippen 9
|Pts: Clyde Drexler 30|
Rebs: Jerome Kersey 12
Asts: Terry Porter 8
|Chicago leads the series, 3–2|
The Bulls jumped out to a 10–2 lead and never looked back, answering every Blazers comeback attempt with a run of their own. Chicago opened the second half on a 16–8 run to give the Bulls a 20-point lead. Portland didn't pull back within single digits until less than four minutes were left in the game, and ended up losing 119–106.
Michael Jordan, who briefly sat with a bad ankle, finished with 46 points on 14-of-23 from the field and 16-of-19 from the line. Scottie Pippen fell just short of a triple-double, with 24 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Clyde Drexler scored 30 points to lead six Portland players in double figures. However, Portland had 18 turnovers and shot just 43.8 percent from the field, compared to 54.8 percent for the Bulls.
|Portland Trail Blazers 93, Chicago Bulls 97|
|Scoring by quarter: 25–19, 25–25, 29–20, 14–33|
|Pts: Drexler, Kersey 24 each
Rebs: Jerome Kersey 9
Asts: Terry Porter 8
|Pts: Michael Jordan 33|
Rebs: Scott Williams 8
Asts: Horace Grant 5
|Chicago wins the series, 4–2|
Portland started strongly as they held Michael Jordan scoreless for the game's first 11 minutes, and took a 43–28 lead midway through the second quarter before Chicago went on a 16–7 run and cut the deficit to only six points. Portland also dominated the third quarter, building a 79–64 lead. Phil Jackson went with four reserves and Scottie Pippen to start the fourth quarter, cutting Portland's lead to three after only three minutes. Jordan returned and had two steals and converted them to hoops to give Chicago a permanent lead. The Bulls' defense held Portland to only six points in the final four minutes, leading the Bulls to their second straight championship. Jordan finished with 33 points and was named Finals MVP for the second consecutive year.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
- Chicago Bulls
|B. J. Armstrong||6||0||17.8||.429||.250||.571||0.8||2.3||0.3||0.0||5.8|
- Portland Trail Blazers
NBC Sports used commentator Marv Albert, analysts Mike Fratello and Magic Johnson, and sideline reporter Ahmad Rashad (both teams' sidelines). Bob Costas and Quinn Buckner hosted the pre-game, halftime and postgame reports.
Just months later, the 1991–92 NBA season documentary Untouchabulls was released. Narrated by Hal Douglas, it recaps the Bulls' championship season. "Jam" by Michael Jackson was used as the theme song for the documentary. That same year, Jordan was featured in Jackson's music video for "Jam".
The Bulls won their third straight championship in the 1992–93 season, winning 57 games and defeating the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals. In the offseason that preceded Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen played for the Dream Team that won the gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics, making them the first players to win NBA championship and Olympic gold medal in the same year (Pippen would achieve this feat again in 1996). That team also included Blazers guard Clyde Drexler. This made Jordan, Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks and Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors the only players to have won Olympic gold medals as both amateurs and professionals, having played for Team USA in Los Angeles.
The 1992 Finals would prove the Blazers' last Finals appearance as of the 2020–21 season[update]. In the next three seasons, the Blazers rebuilt the team, hiring general manager Bob Whitsitt in 1994 and lost the core of their 1992 Finals team to free agency and trades, beginning with Kevin Duckworth's departure to the Bullets in the 1993 offseason. The last remaining piece of the team, Clyde Drexler, was traded and went on to win the NBA championship with the Houston Rockets in 1995.
The 1992 championship marked the only time the Bulls celebrated their title at the Chicago Stadium. Following the awarding ceremony by commissioner David Stern, they returned to the court to show their newly-won title in front of Bulls fans. This act eventually led to Stern's decision to present the NBA championship to the winning team at center court in front of the fans, starting in 1994; the only exception was when the Lakers won in 2001 at Philadelphia's First Union Center, but decided to hold the ceremony in their locker room. Two other home championship celebrations followed in the 1996 and 1997 Finals, this time at the similarly-constructed but bigger United Center.
Notes and referencesEdit
- Brown, Clifton (May 30, 1992). "It's Bulls Against Blazers As Jordan Rules Again". The New York Times. p. 27.
- "Clyde Drexler, now no worse than the NBA's No. 2 player". Sports Illustrated. May 11, 1992.
- Isaacson, Melissa (May 30, 1992). "Bulls clinch on Jordan's late revival". The Chicago Tribune. p. Sports.1.
- Wilbon, Michael (May 27, 1992). "Chicago's the Winning City With Blackhawks and Bulls". The Washington Post. p. B03.
Certainly you've wondered by now how many times teams from the same city have won NBA and NHL championships in the same season. None...This will be the first. Chicago: City of Champions.
- Kiley, Mike (May 27, 1992). "If necessary, Game 6 may be pushed back". The Chicago Tribune. p. Sports.8.
The Blackhawks may have to reschedule Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals because of a possible Chicago Stadium conflict with the Bulls. If Game 6, scheduled for Friday, June 5, remains necessary in the best-of-seven series against Pittsburgh, it may be pushed back a day...The Bulls are scheduled to play Game 2 of the championship series in the Stadium on June 5.
- "Games of the XXV Olympiad – 1992". USA Basketball Inc. Archived from the original on July 18, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
- "Games of the XXIII Olympiad – 1984". USA Basketball, Inc. Archived from the original on July 16, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2009.