45 Minutes Between Chicago and Milwaukee-Michael Jordan Expressed His Frustrations 18 Years Ago over Constantly Losing to the Bucks Early on
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan had to wait a few years before he landed his first NBA Championship in 1991. Joining the team as the #1 pick of the 1984 NBA draft, MJ led the Bulls to the playoffs in his very first season in the league. However, they ended up losing to a strong Milwaukee Bucks side, that boasted the likes of Terry Cummings, Sidney Moncrief, and Paul Pressey. The Bucks had a 3-3 record in the six regular season games the Bulls played against them that season and would soon become the first real rivals the Jordan-led Bulls squad would face early on.
During his 2005 interview with Cigar Aficionado, Jordan had confirmed that the talented Bucks side was their first rival in the league. He had also claimed that while it was the bad boys of the Detroit Pistons who eventually became their most brutal rivals, early on, the Milwaukee Bucks were simply the team to beat in the East.
Michael Jordan thought the Milwaukee Bucks were his first real rivals in the East
Jordan was the star of a rather young and inexperienced Chicago Bulls side that was struggling with several issues before his arrival. However, that was not the end of his misery.
The Bucks would go on to win 3-1 in their 1985 Eastern Conference first-round matchup with the Bulls, which would also be Jordan’s first taste of playoff basketball. While the 1982 NCAA Champion produced impressive individual numbers, the series was dominated by Sidney Moncrief and company. Jordan averaged almost 29 points a game during the 4 matches, but he was short on support and the series proved to be comfortable enough for the Bucks.
Jordan told Cigar Aficionado, during the interview:
“EARLY ON, IT WAS MILWAUKEE. WE COULDN’T BEAT MILWAUKEE. THEY WERE JUST 45 MINUTES TO AN HOUR AWAY [FROM CHICAGO]. THEY WERE A STRONG TEAM AND THEY CONSTANTLY KEPT BEATING US. EVEN WHEN WE GOT IN THE PLAYOFFS, THEY KEPT BEATING US. THEN WE GOT TO A POINT WHERE WE STARTED BEATING THEM.”
Of course, this was only the first time that Jordan’s Bulls struggled in the playoffs. It would take them three more years to get past the first round of the playoffs, which happened in 1988.
Jordan called the Bulls’ rivalry with Detroit Pistons “brutal”
MJ’s rise to stardom coincided with the prime years of Isiah Thomas. The “bad boys” of the Pistons also featured the likes of Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn and Dennis Rodman, who won the 1989 and the 1990 Championships.
Jordan’s Bulls were eliminated by the Pistons three straight years until the 1991 season, when MJ won his first ring:
“THEN THE RIVALRY WENT FROM MILWAUKEE TO DETROIT. AND THAT WAS BRUTAL. ISIAH [THOMAS] WAS FROM CHICAGO, AND HE WANTED TO COME BACK AND SHOW HE STILL DOMINATED CHICAGO. I WAS THE NEW GUY IN CHICAGO, AND PEOPLE WERE SUPPORTING THE TEAM. IT BECAME A DOGFIGHT BETWEEN US. THERE WAS SOME REAL HATRED THERE.”
The brutal rivalry meant that their first victory in 1991 spurred the Bulls on to their first of 6 championships with MJ. Jordan had starred in a commanding 4-0 victory which set up a Finals date with the LA Lakers. Michael Jordan’s journey to NBA greatness was no walk in the park, and his early years with the Chicago Bulls were marked by fierce competition and evolving rivalries. In his first taste of NBA playoffs, Jordan’s Bulls were defeated by the formidable Milwaukee Bucks, who posed a significant challenge with their strong lineup.