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Timeline of NBA in 1990s as league celebrates 75th season

FILE NBA Finals Pistons Blazers 1990
Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 18:22:22-05

A timeline of the National Basketball Association in the 1990s, including milestone moments around the world and in the league’s history as the NBA celebrates its 75th season:

Feb. 11, 1990: Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years in prison. He was the Black South African leader of the movement to end apartheid — the country’s institutionalized system of white supremacy and racial segregation. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and became South Africa’s first Black president in 1994.

June 14, 1990: The Detroit Pistons beat the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win their second consecutive championship. Isiah Thomas is Finals MVP.

Jan. 17, 1991: The Gulf War begins with the United States leading a coalition effort including NATO, Egypt and other Arab nations. The U.S. effort, named Operation Desert Storm, lasts 42 days before President George H.W. Bush declares a cease-fire Feb. 28.

March 3, 1991: Rodney King leads police on a chase in Los Angeles before surrendering. King is beaten by four Los Angeles police officers, and the incident is recorded by someone with a video camera. The video is released, and the four officers are indicted on March 15.

May 27, 1991: The Chicago Bulls finally get past the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons. The Bulls sweep the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, with Michael Jordan averaging 29.8 points and 7.0 assists in the series. The Pistons had beaten the Bulls in the conference semifinals in 1988 and the conference finals in 1989 and 1990.

June 5, 1991: Michael Jordan makes one of the signature plays of his Finals career in the fourth quarter of Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. With tongue wagging, “His Airness” launches down the lane with the ball in his right hand and arm extended. He hangs in the air before switching to his left hand as he descends for a layup off the glass. The shot is immortalized by Marv Albert’s iconic call -- “Oh!! A spec-tacular move by Michael Jordan!!” The Bulls win 107-86, and eventually win the series 4-1 over Magic Johnson’s Lakers in a changing of the guard. Johnson had won five titles in the 1980s.

Nov. 7, 1991: Magic Johnson announces he tested positive for HIV and retires. He returns and plays 36 games in 1996, including the playoffs, before retiring again.

Dec. 8, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev signs an agreement allowing Belarus and Ukraine to break away from the U.S.S.R., an agreement that says the Soviet Union “no longer exists.” Nine other republics declare their independence weeks later. Gorbachev resigns as president on Dec. 25, saying “An end has been put to the Cold War and to the arms race.”

Feb. 9, 1992: Despite having retired, Magic Johnson is voted an All-Star starter and he chooses to play. He scores 25 points and is named MVP

April 29, 1992: A jury finds the four police officers charged in the Rodney King case not guilty, with one charge ending in a hung jury. The acquittals set off three days of rioting in Los Angeles with more than 60 people killed, 7,000 arrests, 3,000 buildings burned and nearly $1 billion in property damage.

June 3, 1992: Michael Jordan scores 35 points and makes six 3-pointers in the first half of a 122-89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He famously shrugs his shoulders after the sixth three. The Bulls win the series 4-2.

Aug. 7, 1992: The “Dream Team,” the first U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team to field active NBA players, rolls past Croatia 117-85 in the gold medal game. The Americans demolish the field, going unbeaten and winning all eight games by an average of 44 points.

Dec. 15, 1992: Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” featuring Snoop Dogg, is released.

June 20, 1993: John Paxson’s late 3-pointer gives Chicago a 99-98 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and clinches the third straight championship for the Bulls.

Oct. 6, 1993: Michael Jordan retires. He says he has lost the desire to play basketball months after his father, James Jordan, was murdered. He announces he will play baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization.

May 7, 1994: The eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets upset the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Denver’s 98-94 victory in Seattle clinches the best-of-five series 3-2 for the Nuggets and marks the first time a No. 8 seed defeats a No. 1 seed. The Nuggets trailed the best-of-five series 2-0 before winning three straight.

June 1, 1994: Indiana’s Reggie Miller torches the New York Knicks for 25 fourth-quarter points in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, leading the Pacers to a 93-86 victory at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks win the series before losing to the Houston Rockets in the Finals.

June 17, 1994: Former NFL running back O.J. Simpson, a suspect in the stabbing murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, gets in a white Ford Bronco driven by former Buffalo Bills teammate Al Cowlings and leads the police on a chase down Southern California freeways. Live coverage of the chase interrupts the NBA Finals. More than 95 million watch on television.

June 22, 1994: Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon closes out a season during which he wins a championship and is league MVP, Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

March 18, 1995: Michael Jordan announces he’s coming out of retirement via a fax with the words, “I’m Back.”

March 28, 1995: Michael Jordan, wearing No. 45 instead of his usual No. 23, scores 55 points in a 113-111 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The fifth game of his comeback offered the surest sign yet that he had maintained his previous greatness, but the Bulls later lose to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

April 19, 1995: A Ryder rental truck explodes in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City shortly after 9 a.m., killing 168 people, including 19 children inside the day care center. More than 650 people were injured and more than 300 buildings destroyed or damaged. Timothy McVeigh is executed in 2001 in connection with the bombing, and co-conspirator Terry Nichols is sentenced to life in prison.

May 7, 1995: Indiana’s Reggie Miller scores eight points in 8.9 seconds to stun the rival New York Knicks 107-105 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. With the Pacers down six at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Miller hit a 3-pointer with 16.4 seconds left, then stole the inbounds pass and hit another three to tie the game. He made two free throws with 7.5 seconds remaining for the winning points.

June 14, 1995: The Houston Rockets sweep the Orlando Magic to win their second consecutive NBA title.

Oct. 3, 1995: In what some called the “Trial of the Century,” a jury finds O.J. Simpson not guilty of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. During closing arguments, defense attorney Johnnie Cochran famously says of a glove offered as evidence: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

April 24, 1996: The NBA Board of Governors approves the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to begin play in June 1997 with the slogan of “We Got Next” for the new league.

June 16, 1996: The Chicago Bulls set a record with 72 regular-season wins, then beat the Seattle SuperSonics 4-2 in the NBA Finals.

June 26, 1996: One of the best NBA Drafts ever: Allen Iverson is the No. 1 pick. Kobe Bryant is selected No. 13. Other top players selected in the first round include Steve Nash, Stephon Marbury, Peja Stojakovic and Jermaine O’Neal.

Aug. 3, 1996: The U.S. men’s basketball team wins Olympic gold again, defeating Yugoslavia in the final game in Atlanta.

Nov. 15, 1996: Space Jam, a live-action/animated sports comedy film featuring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny and starring several other NBA stars, is released.

March 12, 1997: Philadelphia 76ers rookie Allen Iverson loses Michael Jordan with a crossover dribble, faking left then moving right before draining a jumper from just beyond the free throw line for the highlight play of a Rookie of the Year campaign. Iverson, a lightning quick 6-foot point guard, scored 37 points in the loss.

May 19, 1997: Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone is presented with the league MVP award. He would win again in 1999.

June 11, 1997: A severely ill Michael Jordan scores 38 points to lead the Bulls to a win over the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. It was called the “Flu Game” for years, but Jordan later said he believed it was food poisoning.

June 14, 1998: Michael Jordan hits the game-winning jumper over Utah’s Bryon Russell with 5 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the Finals that lifted the Chicago Bulls to their sixth championship of the decade. It is Jordan’s last game with the Bulls.

July 1, 1998: The NBA lockout begins. The work stoppage shortens the season to 50 games per team and causes the All-Star Game to be canceled.

Dec. 19, 1998: President Bill Clinton is impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors” on the charges of obstructing justice and lying to a grand jury in connection with his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Jan. 13, 1999: Michael Jordan retires for the second time.

Jan. 20, 1999: The lockout ends after an agreement is reached that includes a salary cap and a rookie pay scale.

Feb. 12, 1999: President Bill Clinton is acquitted.

June 25, 1999: The San Antonio Spurs win their first NBA title, defeating the New York Knicks 4-1. It was the first of five titles center Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich would win together with the franchise.