“Michael Jordan beat us 4-1 in the 1991 NBA Finals”: Magic Johnson talks about passing the torch to the ‘GOAT’ after Lakers loss to Bulls

Samir Mehdi
|Published March 28, 2021

Magic Johnson says the Michael Jordan era of NBA basketball began when the Chicago Bulls beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 Finals. 

In all fairness, the Michael Jordan era of basketball began the second he stepped foot on NBA hardwood. The rookie out of North Carolina averaged nearly 30 in his freshman season with the Chicago Bulls and brought the franchise from a state of mediocrity to a nation-wide phenomenon.  

Despite Jordan posting up Herculean stats night in and night out, him and his Chicago Bulls would not find immense success in the Playoffs for the first 7 years of career. It would the 1991 NBA Playoffs that saw the rise of a new borderline ‘superteam’ in Chicago, led by Michael Jordan. 

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MJ effectively ended two eras in the 1991 Playoffs. The first would be the Detroit Pistons’ vice grip over the Eastern Conference, beating them 4-0 after having lost to them in the ECF in two consecutive postseasons.

Upon reaching the Finals, the Bulls took care of business when it came to Magic Johnson and his Lakers. This iteration of the purple and gold would never win a title again. 

Magic Johnson outlines the moment he knew it was Michael Jordan’s league and not his

In an interview with the Ringer’s Bakari Sellers, Magic Johnson talks about the exact moment him and his Laker teammates knew they weren’t going to be running the league in the 90s, as they did in the 80s. 

“He came up on the right side and came up with the tongue out. We all jumped, we thought we had him. And he switched it to his left mid-air. We said, ‘you know what, passing of the torch.’ I told him, it’s your turn now, it’s your time now.” 

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Magic Johnson has said many times before that he believes this move of his is the greatest Michael Jordan has ever pulled off. 

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Magic was not wrong however, after having gentlemen swept the Lakers, Michael Jordan and the Bulls would go on to shut down the 1990s by winning 5 more titles in the span of 7 years. Only Jordan’s retirement from the NBA allowed teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets to raise championship banners into the rafters. 

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About the author

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi is a senior strategist for the NBA division at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

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