One for All
June 12, 1991 - After losing the first game of the NBA Finals to the Lakers, Phil Jackson's Bulls won the next three. In his second full season as head coach, Jackson had brought his team to within one win of his first NBA championship.
In Game 5 tonight in Los Angeles, the Bulls turned into the all-for-one and one-for-all team that Jackson had been shaping. With the score tied, 93-93, and 3:54 remaining, Michael Jordan stepped into the shadow of his often-overlooked backcourt partner, John Paxson. Opportunity arose when Jordan's drives to the hoop drew double-teams, freeing Paxson from the defense of Magic Johnson.
Paxson hit a 19-foot jumper to break the tie. Then Jordan got the ball and moved across the floor, looking for his man. He found him. Paxson took the pass and hit an 18-footer. Moments later, he made another jumper. And then another. And another after that. In just under four minutes, Paxson had sunk five straight shots to guarantee the Bulls the first NBA title in their 25-year history.
"We as a team, we as a unit, we accomplished it together," Jordan said. "This should get rid of the stigma of the Bulls being a one-man team."
A gleeful Jackson praised his team. "This series was a tribute to Michael Jordan. Just like at the end of the game, finding the open guy, Paxson, and Paxson hitting the shot."
Jackson's students had aced the final.
Odds 'n' Ends