On this day in sport: Jordan's first of six, Finals glory for Lakers and Warriors

By Sports Desk June 12, 2020

June 12 was a day when Michael Jordan finally became an NBA champion, while the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors also enjoyed Finals celebrations.

Jordan became widely regarded as the greatest player of all time but had to endure a couple of heartbreaks before finally tasting glory with the Chicago Bulls in 1991.

Shaquille O'Neal made history with the Lakers on this day 18 years ago, while you only have to go back to 2017 for Kevin Durant's moment to shine.

The St. Louis Blues also had reason to celebrate 12 months ago as their long wait for Stanley Cup glory came to an end.


1991 - MJ and the Bulls earn first of six

Having been beaten twice in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls finally bested their rivals in the 1990-91 playoffs.

That led to a Finals series with the LA Lakers and Jordan was not about to miss his opportunity.

The Bulls wrapped it up in five with Jordan the fulcrum of their success en route to being named Finals MVP.

He scored 30 points and Scottie Pippen put up 32 as the Bulls defeated the Lakers 108-101 to win their first NBA title on this day. They would go on win six in eight years in one of sport's greatest dynasties.


2002 – 'Get ready for the Shaq attack!' Lakers rout Nets

It was a night of history for Shaq and Phil Jackson as the Lakers completed a 4-0 series of sweep of the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.

Finals MVP Shaq put up 34 points in the 113-107 victory in New Jersey as the Lakers became the fifth team to win at least three straight NBA Championships.

With 145 points in the series, Shaq became the highest scorer in a four-game Finals, beating the 131 of Hakeem Olajuwon, which he achieved in 1995 for the Houston Rockets against O'Neal's Orlando Magic.

For legendary coach Jackson, it represented a ninth NBA title as a coach - levelling Red Auerbach's benchmark.


2017: Durant the Golden boy as James' Cavs beats

Just a year earlier, LeBron James had inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship from a 3-1 deficit to avenge their loss to the Golden State Warriors the season before.

But in the third year of their fourth straight battle in the NBA Finals, it was the Warriors who celebrated a 4-1 series triumph.

Kevin Durant, signed as a free agent at the start of the 2016-17 season, was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, including putting up 39 in Game 5.

James had 41 but was unable to prevent the Cavs slipping to a 129-120 loss.


2019: St Louis finally end Stanley Cup Blues

In a back-and-forth Stanley Cup Finals series, it all came down to Game Seven between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins.

But the Boston fans were left disappointed at TD Garden as St. Louis ran out 4-1 victors.

It marked the Blues' first Stanley Cup triumph in their 51st season as a franchise.

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  • NBA Finals: We've got LeBron but Anthony Davis is the best in the world - Lakers' Markieff Morris NBA Finals: We've got LeBron but Anthony Davis is the best in the world - Lakers' Markieff Morris

    LeBron James may be on the Los Angeles Lakers roster but Anthony Davis is the best player in the world, according to team-mate Markieff Morris.

    Davis marked his debut in the NBA Finals with a sensational performance in the 116-98 blowout of the Miami Heat in Orlando on Wednesday, putting up 34 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

    Superstar James was similarly important for the Lakers with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in the Game 1 contest but Morris said Davis' contributions at both end of the court mark him out from the rest.

    "It's easy for AD," Morris said in quotes reported by ESPN. "Like I've been saying since I got on this team, honestly, if you ask me...we got LeBron but I think he [Davis] is the best player in the world.

    "He [does] it on both ends, he's doing it consistently every night, he gives you what you ask for every night."

    Only Allen Iverson (48), Kevin Durant (36) and Michael Jordan (36) have managed to score more points on an NBA Finals bow than Davis since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77, while Shaquille O'Neal with 43 and George Mikan with 42 are the only players to score more in their first Lakers Finals game.

    "It's a great honour to be in that category with those guys," said Davis.

    "I mean, they have done so much for the game, Hall of Famers, and for me to come out and perform that way and be mentioned with those guys, obviously that's a great honour, but I also want to be mentioned in categories with champions, so that's the next step."

  • NBA Finals: Butler says 'I have to be ready to go' as Heat count loss of injuries NBA Finals: Butler says 'I have to be ready to go' as Heat count loss of injuries

    Jimmy Butler said "I got to be ready to go" after the Miami Heat's disappointment over a Game 1 blowout to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals was exacerbated by injury woes.

    Veteran guard Goran Dragic sustained a reported plantar tear in his left foot and is a doubt for the remainder of the series, while Bam Adebayo left the game with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter clutching his shoulder.

    All-Star Butler also turned his left ankle towards the end of the first half of the humbling 116-98 loss in Orlando but insisted he will be good to go for Game 2 on Friday.

    "[I'm] a little bit sore. I'll be okay with some treatment. I'll get ready to go again," he said.

    "I think I got to be ready to go. So, we'll see how it feels tomorrow, but I'm going to be fine."

    Dragic's injury occurred in the second quarter when attempting to drive Rajon Rondo and initially tried to carry on before heading for treatment and not returning.

    Head coach Erik Spoelstra did not have an update after the game and Butler said the Heat will rally around their team-mate but must be prepared to move forward in the series without him.

    "[We'll] just let him know that I and we are here for him. We know how much he wants to win, how much he wants to go to war and battle with us," Butler added.

    "Obviously we love him for that and we want him out there with us. But whatever the doctor tells him to do, that's what he's got to do.

    "I understand that he wants to go out there and compete and obviously we want him out there with us. But he's got to take care of himself first.

    "[We have to] be ready to go with or without Goran. We're still expecting to win. We still know that we can. We want that guy out there with us. He's a big part of what we're trying to do, but until we can have him back, we got to go out there and we got to fight even harder.

    "We got to try to cover up what he gives us and make up for it. We're capable of it. We have to be capable of it. Moving forward with or without Goran we better hurry up and tie it up 1-1."

    Spoelstra also said he was unsure if Adebayo's injury was the same one he sustained during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics or a fresh concern.

    Butler acknowledges more of the burden to score may fall on his shoulders but said regardless the team has to be tougher in defense.

    "I just take what the game gives me for the most part. I still have a lot of belief in all of my team-mates, I will continually play that way. But maybe so, maybe try to score a little bit more," Butler said.

    "We just got to be tougher. We got to put up more of a fight. I don't think we did that. And then it doesn't help whenever we don't make shots.

    "It's been that way all year long, whenever we start to miss a couple shots, we don't do what we're supposed to do on the other end.

    "So, I think we should always think about letting our defense, for sure our rebounding, start it off for us and then hopefully we start to make shots."

  • Talking Point: Can Arteta's Arsenal follow Klopp's long road to Premier League glory? Talking Point: Can Arteta's Arsenal follow Klopp's long road to Premier League glory?

    Mikel Arteta said from the outset that Arsenal could forget about achieving overnight success during his reign, but he made it clear the "top trophies" were his and the club's target.

    Since walking back into Emirates Stadium last December, having retired as a player with the Gunners three and a half years earlier, Arteta has begun to stamp his mark.

    This week has seen comparisons drawn between Arteta and Liverpool's championship-winning manager Klopp, and the similarities between the state of their respective clubs when they each took over.

    Liverpool were in a nosedive under Brendan Rodgers, while Arsenal's decline had begun under Arsene Wenger, and Unai Emery proved incapable of plugging the holes in north London's sinking ship.

    Yet Arteta has now managed Arsenal in 23 Premier League games, and his record in that time beats Klopp's start in Liverpool's top job.

    As Opta data illustrates, Arsenal appear to be taking small but significant steps forward under their Spanish boss.

    'A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT REMIT' FOR ARTETA

    Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool and England defender, was a voice of reason this week after Arsenal came in for flak when losing 3-1 to Klopp's men at Anfield in the Premier League.

    The teams will meet again in the EFL Cup on Thursday.

    Carragher highlighted the fact Liverpool may be on top of the English game now, but that is only because of season-by-season progress since Klopp's arrival.

    "I think it's almost an identical job to what Klopp came into," Carragher said on Sky Sports. "Forget challenging for the league; they weren't even qualifying for the Champions League.

    "The first thing for Arsenal is to get back into the Champions League. That was the big thing Klopp did in his first season. Can Arsenal do that?"

    As Carragher said, "Liverpool are a few years down the line. It's a completely different remit for Mikel Arteta."

    Klopp took over at Liverpool after Rodgers' side made a poor start to the 2015-16 season, stepping in early in October to steady a side who finished sixth with just 62 points in the previous campaign, having been second and title challengers in 2013-14.

    Arsenal, who were habitual top-four finishers for much of Wenger's tenure, dawdled to sixth in the Frenchman's final season, with a 63-point haul.

    Emery's arrival sparked a minor improvement, but 70 points and fifth in 2018-19 was followed by a wretched start to the next campaign, resulting in the SOS to Arteta.

    SO HOW HAS ARTETA CHANGED A FAILING TEAM?

    Arsenal had won just five of 17 Premier League games when Arteta was appointed last season, drawing seven and losing five.

    The new boss shrewdly took a watching brief from the stands and allowed caretaker Freddie Ljungberg to take the team for the first game after his arrival, a 0-0 draw with Everton.

    Arteta's record in the league since then shows that Arsenal won nine, drew six and lost five with him at the helm last term, a marked move in the right direction, followed by two wins from three this season. Their FA Cup triumph only endorsed the sense of progress.

    Arteta's current haul of 39 points from 23 games beats Klopp's 36 from his first 23 league matches with Liverpool.

    Last season's statistics are inevitably flavoured by the Emery reign and show where Arsenal's performances in recent campaigns have tailed off.

    Their sequences of 10 or more passes in open play slumped to 441 across the campaign, having been at 535 in the 2018-19 season. That total was 504 when the Gunners finished second in 2015-16 and an arguably indulgent 635 in Wenger's final campaign.

    Totals of high turnovers – where sequences in open play begin within 40 metres of the opposition goal – were also down to a five-year low of 139 incidences. The same applied to pressed sequences – where opponents have three or fewer passes in a sequence that ends within 40 metres of their own goal – which fell to 418, down by 114 from the 2016-17 campaign when Arsenal pulled in 75 points.

    An early look at this season's numbers provides little evidence yet to suggest the high turnovers and pressed sequences will dramatically change this season, but the passing numbers certainly catch the eye.

    After three games, Arsenal have racked up 49 10-plus passing sequences, suggesting they could end the season well into the 500s, if not above.

    CAN YOU PASS YOUR WAY TO GLORY?

    Much is made of Liverpool's high press, and their total of 686 pressed sequences last season emphasised how entrenched that is in the Klopp masterplan for success.

    But passing and ball possession have been similarly significant in the rise of the Reds under their German manager.

    If Arteta is looking at making Arsenal as effective as Klopp's troops with the ball, he is sure to have pored over Liverpool's rate of progression under Klopp.

    In the season that Liverpool began under Rodgers and finished with Klopp in charge, the Reds managed just 375 sequences of 10-plus passes.

    That rose season by season, almost doubling from the starting point to 719 in the 2018-19 campaign, dipping only slightly to 682 last term as Liverpool won the Premier League by 18 points.

    Arteta cannot transform Arsenal in a flash and will need time to impose his methods, but Liverpool's 252 high turnovers last season – up sharply from 195 in 2018-19 – helped them immensely on the road to success.

    Liverpool are well ahead of Arsenal in turnovers, presses and passing sequences this season, but that is only to be expected. They are years ahead in terms of their manager's project.

    What is important for Arsenal is that they make gains this season, and then the next, and then the season after that.

    As Carragher said: "I actually like a lot of what Mikel Arteta's doing.

    "I don't think that's a top-four group, but the way he's organising them, what he's actually doing, I think they could get into the top four because of his management.

    "I don't think any manager would be getting any more out of that Arsenal team."

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