MVP Jordan holding out for a ring Star preoccupied with playoff series

May 21, 1991|By Clifton Brown | Clifton Brown,N.Y. Times News Service

NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- Michael Jordan, already recognized as one of the greatest basketball players ever, is no longer motivated by individual awards. So when the National Basketball Association honored Jordan yesterday as the 1991 Most Valuable Player in the league, he had mixed emotions.

Jordan said he was happy to receive the honor, but that his mind was preoccupied with the four-of-seven-game playoff series between his team, the Chicago Bulls, and the Detroit Pistons.

The second game of the series will be played tonight in Chicago. The Bulls won the first game Sunday, 94-83.

"I'm envious of the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics: the teams that have celebrated winning championships," Jordan said yesterday at a news conference. "That's something I badly want to taste. It's the driving force for me right now.

"Winning the MVP award is great, and I graciously accept it on behalf of my family, my teammates and the Chicago Bulls organization. But I'd much rather be standing here in June, waiting to receive a championship ring."

The Bulls' victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference championship series was an example of how Jordan and the Bulls have grown during the last three seasons.

In years past, Jordan, who also won the MVP award in 1988, was expected to carry Chicago's offense with his tremendous talents. But as the Bulls progressed deeper into the playoffs, the burden on Jordan became too heavy. Chicago was eliminated by Detroit in each of the three seasons before this one.

But the Bulls are a deeper team now, and the victory Sunday reflected that. Jordan had a subpar game for him: 22 points on 6-for-15 shooting from the field. Yet his teammates played well enough to beat the Pistons, anyway, something that would not have occurred two or three years ago.

"My teammates deserve most of the credit for my winning the MVP award," said Jordan, 28, who is in his seventh NBA season. "By us winning 61 games this year and becoming a stronger championship contender, it brought attention to the year that I was having.

"It has been said in the past that Michael Jordan doesn't make his teammates better. Well, I don't hold a gun to my teammates' heads and tell them to be better. They have to have the desire to become better themselves. It's a matter of them wanting to be better, and we've done that. As a result, we have a chance to go somewhere we've never gone before."

Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers finished a distant second behind Jordan in the MVP vote, conducted among sports journalists throughout the country. David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs was third.

When Jordan won his first MVP award, in 1988, he averaged 35 points. This season, he averaged 31.5 points.

MVP voting

Voting results for the 1991 NBA Most Valuable Player Award as selected by a nationwide panel of 96 media members on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis (first place votes in parentheses):

1. Michael Jordan, Chi. (77).. .. .. .. 891

2. Magic Johnson, LAL (10).. .. .. .. ..497

3. David Robinson, S. Ant. (6).. .. .. .476

4. Charles Barkley, Phil. (2).. .. .. ..222

Karl Malone, Utah.. .. .. .. .. .. ..142

6. Clyde Drexler, Port. (1).. .. .. .. . 75

7. Kevin Johnson, Pho... .. .. .. .. .. .32

8. Dominique Wilkins, Atl... .. .. .. .. 29

9. Larry Bird, Boston.. .. .. .. .. .. . 25

10. Terry Porter, Portland.. .. .. .. .. 25

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The NBA's MVPs since 1980:

1991 Michael Jordan, Chi.. .. .. .. .. . 82

1990 Magic Johnson, LAL.. .. .. .. .. .. 79

1989 Magic Johnson, LAL.. .. .. .. .. .. 77

1988 Michael Jordan, Chi.. .. .. .. .. ..82

1987 Magic Johnson, LAL.. .. .. .. .. .. 80

1986 Larry Bird, Bos.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 82

1985 Larry Bird, Bos.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 80

1984 Larry Bird, Bos.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 79

1983 Moses Malone, Phi.. .. .. .. .. .. .78

1982 Moses Malone, Hou.. .. .. .. .. .. .81

1981 Julius Erving, Phi.. .. .. .. .. .. 82

1980 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LA.. .. .. ... 82

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