1993 NBA Finals
|Hall of Famers|
|Eastern Finals||Bulls defeat Knicks, 4–2|
|Western Finals||Suns defeat SuperSonics, 4–3|
The 1993 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1992–93 NBA season, featuring the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, and the Phoenix Suns, winners of 62 games and led by regular season MVP Charles Barkley. The Bulls became the first team since the legendary Boston Celtics of the 1960s to win three consecutive championship titles, clinching the "three-peat" with John Paxson's game-winning 3-pointer that gave them a 99–98 victory in Game 6. This series was also notable in that the road team won each game, with the exception of Chicago in Game 4.
This series was aired on NBC with Marv Albert, Bob Costas (hosts), Mike Fratello, Magic Johnson, Quinn Buckner (analysts), Ahmad Rashad (Bulls sideline) and Hannah Storm (Suns sideline) (reporters) calling the action.
The 1993 NBA championship documentary, Three-Peat, marked the first time since 1982 that NBA Entertainment used film in on-court or off-court action, although most of it used videotape. It was narrated by Hal Douglas, who narrated the NBA Championship documentaries of 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997.
Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were part of the 1984 NBA Draft class, with Jordan drafted 3rd by the Chicago Bulls, and Barkley picked 5th by the Philadelphia 76ers. While Jordan instantly catapulted to stardom by winning Rookie of the Year and eventually the MVP, Barkley played under the shadows of fellow all-stars Julius Erving and Moses Malone before coming into his own following the departures of the two. Barkley and Jordan would meet in the 1990 and 1991 NBA Playoffs, but Jordan's Bulls defeated Barkley's 76ers both times in five games, the latter of which where Jordan eventually won his first championship. They were ultimately selected to play for the Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where they won the gold medal.
Frustrated by the constant losing and the desire to play for a contender, Barkley demanded a trade, which he got when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang. Moving to the then-brand new America West Arena from the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the Suns would win 62 games in the 1992–93 season, a franchise record. Barkley's efforts won him the MVP award. The playoffs, however, were no cakewalk for the Suns, as they lost the first two games to the Los Angeles Lakers at home before winning three straight. In the second round the Suns defeated the San Antonio Spurs in six, and were again pushed to a decisive game by the Seattle SuperSonics before ultimately winning in the conference finals. For the Suns, it was their first NBA finals appearance since 1976 and second overall.
The Bulls won only 57 games that year, but started the playoffs hot by sweeping the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers in the first two rounds. However in the conference finals, they trailed 0–2 to the New York Knicks, who held the top seed in the Eastern Conference. But behind Jordan's hot scoring, including a 54-point Game 4, the Bulls evened the series, and then snapped the Knicks' 27-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden on a last second flurry of blocks against Knicks forward Charles Smith. The Bulls won in six games to earn their third straight NBA finals appearance.
Road to the Finals
|Phoenix Suns (Western Conference Champion)||Chicago Bulls (Eastern Conference Champion)|
|Defeated the (8) Los Angeles Lakers, 3–2||First Round||Defeated the (7) Atlanta Hawks, 3–0|
|Defeated the (5) San Antonio Spurs, 4–2||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the (3) Cleveland Cavaliers, 4–0|
|Defeated the (3) Seattle SuperSonics, 4–3||Conference Finals||Defeated the (1) New York Knicks, 4–2|
Regular season series
Both teams split the two meetings, each won by the road team:
Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ‡
|B.J. Armstrong||PG||Kevin Johnson|
|Michael Jordan‡||SG||Dan Majerle|
|Scottie Pippen‡||SF||Richard Dumas|
|Horace Grant||PF||Charles Barkley‡|
|Bill Cartwright||C||Mark West|
|Game||Date||Home Team||Result||Road Team||Local Time|
|Game 1||Wednesday, June 9||Phoenix Suns||92–100 (0–1)||Chicago Bulls||6:00pm PDT|
|Game 2||Friday, June 11||Phoenix Suns||108–111 (0–2)||Chicago Bulls||6:00pm PDT|
|Game 3||Sunday, June 13||Chicago Bulls||121–129 3OT (2–1)||Phoenix Suns||6:30pm CDT|
|Game 4||Wednesday, June 16||Chicago Bulls||111–105 (3–1)||Phoenix Suns||8:00pm CDT|
|Game 5||Friday, June 18||Chicago Bulls||98–108 (3–2)||Phoenix Suns||8:00pm CDT|
|Game 6||Sunday, June 20||Phoenix Suns||98–99 (2–4)||Chicago Bulls||4:30pm PDT|
|Chicago Bulls 100, Phoenix Suns 92|
|Scoring by quarter: 34–20, 18–21, 21–28, 27–23|
|Pts: Michael Jordan 31
Rebs: Scott Williams 10
Asts: Armstrong, Grant, Jordan, Pippen 5 each
|Pts: Charles Barkley 21
Rebs: Richard Dumas 12
Asts: Charles Barkley 5
|Chicago leads the series, 1–0|
It is also worth noting that Phoenix displayed an introduction animation similar in fashion to Chicago's now famous introduction animation, both of which were set to the same song, before the game, which was remarked upon by the commentators. Also, before the game a moment of silence was observed in memory of New Jersey Nets guard Drazen Petrovic; who was killed in a car accident two days earlier.
|Chicago Bulls 111, Phoenix Suns 108|
|Scoring by quarter: 28–29, 31–24, 28–31, 24–24|
|Pts: Michael Jordan 42
Rebs: Grant, Pippen 12 each
Asts: Scottie Pippen 12
|Pts: Charles Barkley 42
Rebs: Charles Barkley 13
Asts: Kevin Johnson 7
|Chicago leads the series, 2–0|
|Phoenix Suns 129, Chicago Bulls 121 (3OT)|
|Scoring by quarter: 29–29, 29–28, 28–28, 17–18, Overtime: 26–18|
|Pts: Dan Majerle 28
Rebs: Charles Barkley 19
Asts: Kevin Johnson 9
|Pts: Michael Jordan 44
Rebs: Horace Grant 17
Asts: Scottie Pippen 9
|Chicago leads the series, 2–1|
The Phoenix Suns won Game 3 in 3OT, 129–121. Suns Head Coach Paul Westphal became the only person to appear in both triple-overtime finals games: the first was the classic 1976 contest against Boston, in Game 5 as a player. His Suns also appeared in that year's finals, thus becoming the only team to appear in two triple-overtime finals games, the first of which they lost 126–128. Westphal made a shocking decision that paid off, as he tried to get Kevin Johnson back on track after Johnson had two terrible performances in Games 1 and 2 by having him guard Michael Jordan, and KJ played much better all-around basketball for the rest of the Finals.
Suns: Kevin Johnson 25, Dan Majerle 28, Charles Barkley 24, Mark West 11, Richard Dumas 17, Danny Ainge 10, Tom Chambers 12, Oliver Miller 2, Frank Johnson 0, Jerrod Mustaf 0
Bulls: B.J. Armstrong 21, Michael Jordan 44, Scottie Pippen 26, Horace Grant 13, Bill Cartwright 8, Scott Williams 4, Trent Tucker 3, Stacey King 0, John Paxson 2, Darrell Walker 0
|Phoenix Suns 105, Chicago Bulls 111|
|Scoring by quarter: 27–31, 31–30, 23–25, 24–25|
|Pts: Charles Barkley 32
Rebs: Charles Barkley 12
Asts: Charles Barkley 10
|Pts: Michael Jordan 55
Rebs: Horace Grant 16
Asts: Scottie Pippen 10
|Chicago leads the series, 3–1|
In Game 4, Michael Jordan was unstoppable, scoring 55 points at Chicago Stadium and making a tough driving layup late in the game while getting fouled. The Bulls won 111–105. Scott Williams, who like MJ played his college basketball at UNC for Dean Smith, joked afterwards about "being proud that the two former Tar Heels combined for 57 points."
Suns: Charles Barkley 32, Dan Majerle 14, Kevin Johnson 19, Richard Dumas 17, Mark West 8, Tom Chambers 7, Danny Ainge 2, Oliver Miller 2, Frank Johnson 4
Bulls: Michael Jordan 55, Scottie Pippen 14, Horace Grant 17, B.J. Armstrong 11, Bill Cartwright 3, John Paxson 6, Scott Williams 2, Stacey King 3, Rodney McCray 0, Darrell Walker 0, Trent Tucker 0
|Phoenix Suns 108, Chicago Bulls 98|
|Scoring by quarter: 33–21, 21–28, 26–24, 28–25|
|Pts: Johnson, Dumas 25 each
Rebs: Dan Majerle 12
Asts: Kevin Johnson 8
|Pts: Michael Jordan 41
Rebs: Grant, Jordan 7 each
Asts: Michael Jordan 7
|Chicago leads the series, 3–2|
Before Game 5, Charles Barkley told the press he had announced to his teammates that they needed to win to "Save the City", a reference to the riots anticipated in Chicago if the Bulls won the championship at home. Both Paul Westphal and Kevin Johnson later expressed amusement about Barkley claiming credit for the line because they both heard Westphal make a tongue-in-cheek comment to that affect in a pregame meeting.
The Suns won 108–98 and headed home for Game 6 down 3–2.
Suns: Dan Majerle 11, Charles Barkley 24, Kevin Johnson 25, Mark West 5, Richard Dumas 25, Danny Ainge 8, Oliver Miller 8, Frank Johnson 2, Tom Chambers 0, Jerrod Mustaf 0
Bulls: Michael Jordan 41, Scottie Pippen 22, Horace Grant 1, B.J. Armstrong 7, Bill Cartwright 2, John Paxson 12, Scott Williams 4, Stacey King 4, Will Perdue 0, Trent Tucker 5, Darrell Walker 0
|Chicago Bulls 99, Phoenix Suns 98|
|Scoring by quarter: 37–28, 19–23, 31–28, 12–19|
|Pts: Michael Jordan 33
Rebs: Scottie Pippen 12
Asts: Michael Jordan 7
|Pts: Barkley, Majerle 21 each
Rebs: Charles Barkley 17
Asts: Kevin Johnson 10
|Chicago wins the series, 4–2|
The Bulls got off to a good start in Game 6 but struggled in the fourth quarter, wasting a double-digit lead to trail 98–94. Michael Jordan made a layup to cut the margin to 2 points, and Dan Majerle's 30-foot three-point attempt fell short on the Suns' next possession. Trailing 98–96 and facing a Game 7 on the road if they lost that day, Chicago ran a play that Phil Jackson called "Blind Pig" that had them increasing the play's "thrust" by bringing the ball from 3/4 back of the basket. Although Westphal's sole instruction on the play was for none of the players to double-team any of the Bulls (even Michael Jordan), Danny Ainge left John Paxson to try and either steal the ball or foul Horace Grant, who had missed all five of his attempts in the game and wasn't a good crunch-time free throw shooter. Grant saw Paxson alone 25 feet from the basket and fired a perfect pass, and Paxson then drilled a three pointer with 3.9 seconds left, giving the Bulls a 99–98 lead. Paxson's three-point field goal was the only score by any Bulls player other than Michael Jordan in the entire fourth quarter. The victory was secured by a last-second block from Grant on Kevin Johnson.
Bulls: Michael Jordan 33, Scottie Pippen 23, B.J. Armstrong 18, Horace Grant 1, Bill Cartwright 2, John Paxson 8, Scott Williams 5, Trent Tucker 9, Stacey King 0
Suns: Dan Majerle 21, Kevin Johnson 19, Charles Barkley 21, Richard Dumas 8, Mark West 4, Tom Chambers 12, Danny Ainge 9, Oliver Miller 4, Frank Johnson 0
Michael Jordan, who averaged a Finals-record 41.0 PPG during the six-game series, became the first player in NBA history to win three straight Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Awards. He joined Magic Johnson as the only other player to win the award three times. The NBA started awarding the Finals MVP in 1969.
Quotes from the Finals
God want [sic] us to win the World Championship..... I've talked to him the other night.
Here's Paxson for three! YES! The Bulls take a one-point lead and Phoenix calls for time with three and nine tenths seconds remaining in the fourth quarter!— NBC commentator Marv Albert calling on John Paxson's series-winning three-pointer
Here's Johnson. Johnson gets...No! He cannot get it off! Knocked away by Grant! It's all over! The Chicago Bulls have made it three straight NBA Championships!— Marv Albert calling on the final seconds and celebration
A month after the Bulls' third straight championship, Michael Jordan's father, James R. Jordan, Sr., was murdered. Distraught by the murder of his father, Jordan announced his retirement from basketball a few weeks before the 1993–94 NBA season began, citing a loss of desire to play basketball. Even without Jordan, the Bulls still managed to win 55 games behind the All-Star efforts of Scottie Pippen; however the loss of Jordan was steep to overcome, and, following a controversial call that gave New York the Game 5 win, the Bulls would go on to lose to the New York Knicks in the Conference Semi-finals of the 1994 NBA Playoffs in Game 7. Jordan would return from retirement in March 1995, following a brief baseball career and made the 1995 NBA Playoffs, losing to the Orlando Magic in 6 games. Game 5 of the Finals between the Bulls and Suns was the last NBA Finals game played at Chicago Stadium.
The Phoenix Suns would finish with 56 wins in the 1993–94 season, but were eliminated from the playoffs by the Houston Rockets after leading 2–0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. The following year, Phoenix took a commanding 3–1 lead against a 6th-Seeded Houston team only to lose again, losing Games 5 and 7 on their home court, the last of which was decided on a 3-pointer by Mario Elie and an ensuing free throw session. The Rockets went on to win both the 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals. As of 2015 this is the Suns' last Finals appearance. In a last-ditch attempt to win a championship, Barkley was soon traded, ironically, to the Rockets in 1996 for Sam Cassell, Robert Horry and Chucky Brown. Despite forming a "Big Three" with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, the Rockets failed to make the NBA Finals in Barkley's four seasons. The 1993 Finals would be the only appearance of Charles Barkley's Hall of Fame career.