The 1993 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1992–93 NBA season, featuring the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, and the Phoenix Suns, winners of 62 games and led by regular season MVP Charles Barkley. The Bulls became the first team since the legendary Boston Celtics of the 1960s to win three consecutive championship titles, clinching the "three-peat" with John Paxson's game-winning 3-pointer that gave them a 99–98 victory in Game 6. This series was also notable in that the road team won almost every game, with the exception of Phoenix in Game 4.
This series was aired on NBC with Marv Albert, Bob Costas (hosts), Mike Fratello, Magic Johnson, Quinn Buckner (analysts), Ahmad Rashād (Bulls sideline) and Hannah Storm (Suns sideline) (reporters) calling the action.
The 1993 NBA championship documentary, Three-Peat, marked the first time since 1982 that NBA Entertainment used film in on-court or off-court action, although most of it used videotape. It was narrated by Hal Douglas, who narrated the NBA Championship documentaries of 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997.
The Suns were a team on the rise, led by their All-Star point guard Kevin Johnson. Johnson arrived via trade in 1988, and propelled the Suns to two consecutive trips to the conference finals in his first two full seasons.
In the 1992 offseason, the Suns made a blockbuster trade, acquiring Charles Barkley from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang. They also hired Paul Westphal as head coach, unveiled new logos and uniforms, and moved to the then-brand new America West Arena from the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Suns made the most of these moves, winning a franchise record 62 games. Barkley's efforts won him the MVP award. In the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Suns eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. In the second round the Suns defeated the San Antonio Spurs in six, and were again pushed to a decisive game by the Seattle SuperSonics before ultimately winning in the conference finals. For the Suns, it was their first NBA finals appearance since 1976 and second overall.
Chicago Bulls 111, Phoenix Suns 108
Scoring by quarter: 28–29, 31–24, 28–31, 24–24
Pts: Michael Jordan 42
Rebs: Grant, Pippen 12 each
Asts: Scottie Pippen 12
Pts: Charles Barkley 42
Rebs: Charles Barkley 13
Asts: Kevin Johnson 7
Chicago leads the series, 2–0
America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
No. 11 Jake O'Donnell
No. 17 Joey Crawford
No. 14 Jack Madden
Both teams came were locked in battle throughout the first quarter until Chicago took over in the 2nd quarter shooting at a greater shooting percentage. In the 2nd half, the Suns begin to put more pressure on the Bulls, but late in the 4th quarter with time running out, it would come down to a battle of determination. Scottie Pippen blocked Danny Ainge's 3-point attempt to seal the win and Phoenix becomes the first team to lose their home-court advantage twice in the first two games of the NBA Finals.
A month after the Bulls’ third straight championship, Michael Jordan's father, James R. Jordan, Sr., was murdered. Distraught by the murder of his father, Jordan announced his retirement from basketball a few weeks before the 1993–94 NBA season began, citing a loss of desire to play basketball. Even without Jordan, the Bulls still managed to win 55 games behind the All-Star efforts of Scottie Pippen; however the loss of Jordan was steep to overcome, and, following a controversial call that gave New York the Game 5 win, the Bulls would go on to lose to the New York Knicks in the Conference Semi-finals of the 1994 NBA Playoffs in Game 7. Jordan would return from retirement in March 1995, following a brief baseball career and made the 1995 NBA Playoffs, losing to the Orlando Magic in six games. Game 5 of the Finals between the Bulls and Suns was the last NBA Finals game played at Chicago Stadium.
The Phoenix Suns would finish with 56 wins in the 1993–94 season, but were eliminated from the playoffs by the Houston Rockets after leading 2–0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. The following year, Phoenix took a commanding 3–1 lead against a sixth-Seeded Houston team only to lose again, losing Games 5 and 7 on their home court, the last of which was decided on a 3-pointer by Mario Elie and an ensuing free throw session. The Rockets went on to win both the 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals. As of 2017 this remains the Suns’ last Finals appearance. In a last-ditch attempt to win a championship, Barkley was soon traded, ironically, to the Rockets in 1996 for Sam Cassell, Robert Horry and Chucky Brown. Despite forming a "Big Three" with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, the Rockets failed to make the NBA Finals in Barkley's four seasons. The 1993 Finals would be the only appearance of Charles Barkley's Hall of Fame career.