Charles Barkley shares what he learned from Michael Jordan about playing in the NBA Finals© Provided by All Bulls on FanNation
NBA superstars are used to playing under bright lights wherever they go. Whether it’s Madison Square Garden or the Chicago Stadium, they are accustomed to playing in front of thousands of screaming fans.
But nothing compares to the pressure and intensity of playing in the NBA Finals. Charles Barkley, an NBA legend and current analyst for TNT’s Inside the NBA, recently shared some valuable lessons he learned from Michael Jordan about playing on the biggest stage.
Jordan wasn’t ready
According to Barkley, Jordan shared that he wasn’t 100 percent ready to play in Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals. He and his teammates were thrilled to reach that stage after numerous failed attempts in past seasons and were nervous about it.
“He said, ‘I wasn’t ready to play in Game 1,’ when the Bulls played the Lakers for his first championship. He said, ‘We were hyper; we were nervous, and I was not ready,’” Barkley shared.
Despite the nerves, Jordan still tallied a near triple-double of 36 points, 12 assists, and eight assists, while Scottie Pippen had 19 points. However, the Bulls’ duo had little help, with no other player reaching double-figures in a 93-91 Game 1 loss to Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Of course, Jordan and the Bulls got their act together and won the next four games to topple the Lakers and win their first NBA title.
Jordan and Barkley would cross paths in the NBA Finals a few years later. By then, MJ was playing in his third straight NBA Finals, while Barkley was in his first. And like His Airness in his first go-around, Barkley felt the pressure of the moment as the Bulls won Game 1, 100-92.
“I did not have us ready to play in Game 1 [vs the Bulls]. We came out nervous. That’s the only bad game we played. I didn’t have us ready to play. The lights were too big for them. That was my fault. I should’ve been more aggressive,” Barkley said.