NBA title a new ‘bawlgame’ for Jordan

Read the Sun-Times’ original story from the night the Bulls beat the Lakers for their first championship.

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Michael Jordan hugs the championship trophy after defeating the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Ken Levine/Allsport

Originally published June 13, 1991.

INGLEWOOD, Calif.– Michael Jordanprides himself on being a master of his emotions.

”I very, very rarely cry,” he often has said.

But Wednesday night he found himself overmatched when the Bulls beat the Los Angeles Lakers 108-101 to win their first NBA championship.

SoMichael Jordancried. He cried like a baby while hugging the big, shiny NBA championship trophy.

”I’ve been waiting seven years for this and I thank God for blessing us to make it possible,” Jordan said.

When Jordan first walked into the locker room, he collapsed into a squat, hugging himself andcrying. His teammates understood and patted him on the back.

Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen laughed and shouted, “We won it! We won it, baby!”

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf and operations chief Jerry Krause hugged each other fiercely. The whole room was one massive hug-in and the tears mixed with champagne running down people’s faces.

”All right, let’s get together here and have prayer,” Grant urged.

So the players and coaches huddled in the middle of the room and recited the Lord’s Prayer together.

Then the celebration resumed. Screams. Laughs. Corks popping off champagne bottles.

Reinsdorf met with NBA commissioner David Stern for the ceremonial presentation of the trophy. And all the Bulls crowded behind their owner and cheered.

Pippen had claimed the game ball and was clutching it tightly. He deserved it. He scored a game-high 32 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, six in the fourth quarter.

”This is my ball and nobody’s taking it away from me,” Pippen shouted with a laugh.

Jordan was given the team trophy and he sat down hugging and kissing it andcrying. On Jordan’s left sat his wife, Juanita. On his right sat his father, James. His mother Deloris was walking through the door. But she wouldn’t arrive too quickly because the room was a logjam of people shouting, hugging,cryingand spraying each other with champagne.

”This is the happiest moment of my life,” Jordan said. “We did it. We did it as a team. I’ve been fighting to hold back my emotions all week. But I knew we would win it tonight and I knew my emotions would get the best of me. I’m just happy.”

Teammates, their wives and assorted fans took turns shaking Jordan’s hands, patting him on the back and congratulating him.

”I was with him when he won the NCAA championship,” Jordan’s father said. “I was with him when he won the Olympic gold medal. But this is the mountaintop. This is as good as it gets. I’ve never seen him this emotional. I’m happy for him and the whole team.”

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