Ascending Bulls Retire Classless Bad Boys
After finishing 27-55 in 1984, the Chicago Bulls had the third pick in the draft and chose Michael Jordan from North Carolina. In Jordan’s first three year’s (including one year he missed most of), the Bulls just barely snuck in as the 8th seed and suffered first round defeats to Milwaukee (3-1) and two sweeps by the Celtics.
In 1986, despite being swept by the Celtics, Michael Jordan signaled his arrival to the league with a memorable 63-point peformance in Game 2.
In 1988, the Bulls jumped to 50-32, finishing four games behind Central Division champion Detroit who beat them 4-1 in the second round. The Bulls had a memorable playoff run in 1989 that included Michael Jordan’s “The Shot” to win the first round series against the Cavaliers, but which also ended with a 4-2 loss to Detroit in the conference finals.
In 1990, the Bulls met the defending champs in the conference finals again. With the series tied 3-3, they were blown out in the deciding game 93-74 as Scottie Pippen was hobbled by a migraine.
Then came 1991, when the Bulls claimed the first seed in the East with a 61-21 record – eleven games ahead of Detroit. The Bulls swept the two-time champs and the Bad Boys did not take it well – walking off the court early to avoid congratulating the Bulls on the franchise’s first conference championship.
Michael Wilbon reacted in the Washington Post:
At their best, the Detroit Pistons were three-time NBA finalists, two-time champions and all the time worthy of respect, if not flat-out fear. At their worst, which we’ve seen plenty of over the past week, they were classless thugs who behaved like anything but champions while being swept out of the NBA playoffs by the Chicago Bulls.
In the finals, the Bulls would face a new-look Los Angeles Lakers, with new coach Mike Dunleavey. The Lakers would steal the opener in Chicago on a 3-point shot by Sam Perkins.
The Bulls swept the remainder of the series for their first NBA Championship.