May 27- Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls finally beat the Pistons in the 1991 NBA Playoffs
1991- On this day in sports history, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls finally beat the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Playoffs. The Chicago Bulls had lost to the Pistons the previous three seasons resulting into an intense rivalry between the two teams. Finally, on May 27, 1991, the Bulls swept the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time. With 7.9 seconds left on the clock, the Pistons would famously walk off the court without shaking the Bull’s players hands.
From 1988-1990, The Bulls were the rising team in the Eastern Conference with Michael Jordan becoming the best player in the league. However, the Detroit Pistons stood in their way to actually getting to the top. The Pistons, led by Chicago native Isiah Thomas, ended the Bulls season in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1988 and in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1989 and 1990. Not only did the Pistons beat them, but they did so in intense physical games and with the “Jordan Rules”. The Pistons were called the “Bad Boys” because of their physical play and the cheap shots that they were known for. The “Jordan Rules” were specially for Michael Jordan as they would double him every time he got the ball and hit him every chance they could. Coming off a grueling Game 7 loss to the Pistons in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan vowed to his team that they’d never lose to them again. The Bulls started training again together just a few short days after their Game 7 loss. Meanwhile, the Pistons would go on to win their second straight NBA Championship.
During the following season, the hard work the Bull’s put in during the offseason led them to holding the best record in the Eastern Conference at 61-21. Michael Jordan was named the 1991 NBA MVP. Jordan was correct as the Bulls swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Jordan averaged 29.8 points a game during the series as the Bulls won each game by an average of 11.5 points. The Bulls would go on to win their first ever NBA Championship after beating Magic Johnson and the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
On May 27, 1991, with 7.9 seconds left in Game 4 of the series, the Pistons were down 21 points and were about to be swept. They would famously walk off the court, past the Bull’s bench, and to the locker room. They refused to shake the Bull’s players' hands after losing a series to them for the first time. The disrespect the Pistons showed the Bull’s players through this act added to the “Bad Boys” title that the Pistons carried. However, it would be their last act as the “Bad Boys” era of dominance was over. Following the 1991 season, the Piston’s saw a steady decline and they would never meet Michael Jordan and the Bull’s in the playoffs again. Instead, the Bulls would go on to win six NBA Championships before Jordan retired.
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Ward-Henninger, Colin. “Michael Jordan 'Last Dance': A Timeline of Bulls, 'Bad Boys'
Pistons' Heated Rivalry and Testy Playoff Battles.” CBSSports.com, CBS Sports, 16
Smith, Sam. “How the Michael Jordan Bulls and Isiah Thomas Pistons Became the Ultimate
Rivalry.” Chicago Bulls, NBA, 14 May 2020
Photo- (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)