After a poor Game 1 performance in the 1991 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan encouraged John Paxson to keep shooting the ball. Paxson went on to shoot 8/8 from the field the next game.
In Michael Jordan’s illustrious 15-year career, there were several moments that stood out. His 69-point game, the famous “Flu Game”, his first three-peat, clinching his 6th title and many more. However, none must’ve been as relieving as winning his first championship in 1991.
After losing in and get knocked out of the playoffs for six seasons, MJ and the Bulls finally managed to make it to the 1991 NBA Finals. They eventually ended up defeating the Los Angeles Lakers to win their maiden title.
It was a battle of the ages, Mike & Scottie and their boys went against a Magic Johnson-led experienced Lakers team. It was a pretty easy battle for Chicago, finishing the series in 5 games, and lifting their trophy at the Chicago Stadium.
However, the series didn’t start off well for Chicago. The Lakers managed to clinch a 93-91 road win, to lead the series 1-0. Only His Airness had a great game for the Bulls, who ended the night with 36 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds on 58% shooting from the field.
“We’re gonna go down with no billers in our holsters. You gotta keep shooting”: Michael Jordan to John Paxson
Even though Scottie Pippen had a decent 19-point game, he was pretty inefficient from the field shooting at only 36%. One player in particular, who Jordan recognized that had to have a good series, was the sharpshooter John Paxson. Paxson finished Game 1 with a lousy 3-of-7 shooting night, with no three-pointers knocked down.
MJ took it upon himself to motivate his 6-foot-2 guard. After the loss, Air Jordan encouraged Paxson by telling him to shoot more shots. Jordan revealed what he had said:
“If we’re gonna go down, we’re gonna go down with no billers in our holsters. You gotta keep shooting. You gon get it going, gotta make Magic (Johnson) work, gotta make him pay for helping out on the defensive end.”
After losing G1 to the Lakers, MJ tells Paxson, “If we’re gonna go down, we’re gonna go down with no bullets in our holsters. You gotta keep shooting.” Paxson went 8/8 in a G2 win for the Bulls. #JumpmanHistory #NBAFinals
— Jumpman History (@HistoryJumpman) July 7, 2021
When your leader tells you something, you simply do as instructed. And that’s exactly what John did. He took note of what Mike had to say and kept shooting the next game. Paxson ended up scoring 16 points on 100% shooting, helping his team grab a huge 107-86 win.
The Chicago Bulls ended up winning all the remaining games, lifting their first-ever championship trophy. Averaging 13.4 points and 3.5 assists in those finals, Paxson was more instrumental than the numbers show, and he had a huge role in helping Jordan win his first title.