Playboy: There was also the matter of how you compared to Magic and Larry Bird.
Jordan: When it came to comparisons, this is what always knocked me out of the top two players: People would always say, “All these great plays and he’s never taken his team to a championship.” So I wanted to go through one of those two. It worked out perfect.
Playboy: Magic made his teammates better. That’s something you’ve been accused of failing to do.
Jordan: The championship was my opportunity to show I’m not just a scorer. That was the challenge when everyone tried to make it a one-on-one situation, Magic versus Michael. I realized that. But you know, I told people that if we got to the Finals, we were going to win, if I have anything to do with it. I might never get this opportunity again. And when I got to the Finals, all I tried to do was plug holes—scoring, passing, rebounding, whatever—just as they had portrayed Magic as doing.
Playboy: Was there a particular moment in the year when you thought, Maybe we can go all the way?
Jordan: When we beat Detroit before the All-Star game.
Playboy: That early?
Jordan: We beat them in Detroit. We hadn’t beaten them in Detroit for about ten games, and once we did, it gave us confidence. We needed to know that we could beat them on their court. In the conference championship series the year before, we had defended our home court well. But we went up there and got stomped in game seven.