The NBA’s Christmas Day showdown between Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in 1991 is remembered by many as one of the most exciting games ever. However, it was hardly a gift for NBA fans, who were subjected to an ugly game that saw both teams score just 49 points combined on their way to a last-second win for the Celtics.
The Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird ’91 Christmas Showdown Was Hardly a Gift for NBA Fans is a blog post about the 1991 NBA Playoffs. It discusses how Michael Jordan and Larry Bird faced off in the playoffs, which was hard for fans to watch because of the lack of competitiveness. Read more in detail here: michael jordan vs larry bird playoffs.
On paper, it seemed to be a fantastic Christmas gift for NBA fans. It was more like receiving coal in your stocking. On Dec. 25, 1991, Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls met Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, with Bird’s aging team going to Chicago to play Jordan’s red-hot Bulls. It was a much-anticipated Christmas celebration that didn’t exactly go according to plan.
The Christmas duel included Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls walks to the bench during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in May 1991 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images/B Miller/Bruce Bennett Studios
In 1991, the Celtics and Bulls faced off in the first of two NBA Christmas Day games. The second game of the day featured the Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers. Jordan and the Bulls, fresh off an NBA championship, were set to face Boston’s Big Three — Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish — in front of a national audience.
Boston had a seasoned team that had advanced to the NBA Finals five times in the 1980s, winning three titles. Their previous appearance in the Finals was four years ago, when they were defeated by the Lakers in six games. The squad was a mix of young and old. Bird was 35 years old, Parish was 38, and McHale was 34. The Celtics wanted to have one last hurrah as a team.
Jordan and the Bulls, on the other hand, were coming into their own. They just won their first NBA championship, defeating the Detroit Pistons, who had represented the Eastern Conference in the Finals for the previous three seasons. Jordan had become the NBA’s face, and the league determined that the Celtics-Bulls game would be the main event that Christmas season.
On Christmas Day 1991, Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird was a complete flop.
Jordan himself acknowledged that his showdown with Bird and the Celtics didn’t live up to the anticipation.
According to The Chicago Tribune, after the Bulls beat the Celtics 121-99 to move to 21-4, he remarked, “I suppose it didn’t turn out to be as promised.”
Not only was the game a snoozer, but both Bird and Jordan had one of their worst performances in their respective careers. A total of 22 points were scored by the pair. Jordan played 35 minutes, while Bird played 34 minutes.
In the contest, Bird only hit four of ten baskets and never went to the foul line. He scored eight points in the end. Before the game, he claimed the Celtics looked to be prepared. Bird, on the other hand, claimed it was a different story after the first tip.
“We were simply beaten. According to UPI archives, Bird remarked, “We were outplayed on both ends.” “Every theft resulted in two points. When we arrived, we were ready to play, but we didn’t perform so well. They beat us to every lost ball tonight.
“You have to come every night to play in this league. The fact that it was a vacation does not justify our behavior.”
Jordan knew his shot was off and attempted to assist in other ways.
Jordan had a game-high six field goals. He shot 6-for-14 from the field, but said he felt he didn’t have his shooting early on. He looked for additional methods to assist his squad.
Jordan said, “If you think I’m growing old, you’re incorrect.” “I made the pass and rebounded to help the team win since I knew my shot wasn’t there early.”
The Celtics seemed to be old. Bird and Parish each scored eight points, while McHale came off the bench to score 11 points. Rick Fox, a rookie, led the way with 21 points. Reggie Lewis led the team with 20 points.
Boston Coach Chris Ford stated, “We were simply outplayed in every area.” “We lost to the defending champions. We simply hung about and observed as they played a strong, aggressive defense. That’s the whole shebang.”
Jordan had eight rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in the game. Scottie Pippen, who led the team with 27 points, was deferred to. B.J. Armstrong led the team with 18 points.
“We have three games in four nights,” Jordan said, “so having everyone engaged in this victory will help with endurance.” “We’re having a good time, and I’m pleased.”
The Bulls demonstrated that they could win even when Jordan wasn’t at his best. They also demonstrated that they were not in the spirit of giving on Christmas Day.
Basketball Reference provided all stats.
Was Larry Bird Ever Scoreless With The Boston Celtics? RELATED: Was Larry Bird Ever Scoreless With The Boston Celtics?
The Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird ’91 Christmas Showdown Was Hardly a Gift for NBA Fans is a blog about the Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird ’91 Christmas Showdown in which Michael Jordan and Larry Bird played against each other one last time on December 25, 1991. Reference: michael jordan larry bird last dance.
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