Celebrating 1990-91 - Stacey King
Sam Smith recently spoke with Stacey King, player on the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls Championship team and current Bulls television color commentator who shared his reflections on the season, twenty years later
Stacey King's most vivid memory of that 1991 championship season started in the locker room after the bitter seventh game loss in the 1990 conference finals in Auburn Hills.
"Jerry Krause gave his little speech," King recalled, "and then Michael stood up and gave this talk and really was getting on guys to accept the challenge and do what it takes to come back next year. He came around and pointed to everyone, to Scottie and Horace and what they had to do, to B.J., myself, to get in the weight room, work out, be more focused, determined.
"I'll never forget that," said King. "It was like an aura came over the room. To see the passion he had, how tired he was of losing to Detroit. I think it infused everyone. There was a different mindset.
"We felt that year, 1991, was our year," said King. "Basically, the whole season was about getting back to Detroit. We weren't thinking about a championship. Because to get to a championship we had to go through them. We felt if Pip didn't have the migrane and Paxson had not been out with that ankle injury we would have won (in 1990). We were young and inexperienced.
"Then they beat us the first time in that regular season and it seemed maybe they did have some kind of mojo over us," said King. "But we really knew we had what we needed to go trough them. When we got those first two games (at home) we knew it was going to be a short series.
"We had a very deep team, and athletic team," said King. "And it was a team that was driven. The obstacle was Detroit and we weren't worried about anyone but them."
King coached in the CBA after his NBA playing career ended and now is a hugely popular analyst on Bulls TV broadcasts. He didn't have quite the career he hoped as a No. 6 overall pick in the 1989 draft, but he had some great moments in that 1991 season.
"For me personally, it probably was when Bill Cartwright went out for a couple of weeks," King recalled. "Phil decided to rest him and I stepped in and started and was able to play regularly and we didn't miss a beat. I put up some good numbers, but the team kept winning, and I was most proud of that, being part of that winning.
"The thing about that team was we were competitive," said King. "Fights and things went on, but when we stepped on the court we were unified. Everyone knew Michael would get all the shots, but he also knew he could not do it alone. That's what winning that first championship was all about.
"MJ was hard," King said with a laugh. "But you had balance with guys like Cartwright and Paxson. Michael could be getting on you, but Bill would be there to pump you up and maybe if those veteran guys weren't there we all wouldn't have had the confidence.
"Winning was euphoric for everyone," said King. "For Michael here was a guy who always was the leading scorer, but they said he was a great player who couldn't win anything. But for him to accomplish that with this cast was a great accomplishment for him and for us. And we felt like we would continue.
"Look, if MJ didn't retire those two years, maybe you are talking about eight in a row now."