After a week off, NBA Tuesday returns to take on the final season of the transformational 1980s, as the concept of professional basketball in America moved to the forefront of the international sports scene. We have Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan to thank for that, as well as the marketing brilliance of Commissioner David Stern. Welcome to the New World Order!
Remember also to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, because knowledge is power.
1989 NBA FINALS MVP: Joe Dumars, SG, Detroit (original, confirmed)
The dam finally broke for the Los Angeles Lakers, as the Detroit Pistons swept them in the NBA Finals to end all the “three-peat” talk. After winning Game 1 at home by double digits, the Pistons won Game 2 by 3 points at home and Game 3 by 4 points on the road to carve out a 3-0 series lead. At that point, it was a relatively easier 8-point win on the road in Game 4 to close out the title series.
Detroit shooting guard Joe Dumars was named the MVP, and we agree with it: He led the Pistons in minutes played (36.8 mpg) and points scored (27.3 ppg), while shooting 57.6 percent from the floor and 86.8 percent from the line. He also committed just 7 turnovers and 4 personal fouls in the series, demonstrating an incredible minimalization of negatives.
Throw in Dumars’ 6.0 apg, and it’s clear he was the “X” factor for Detroit in its victory. The Pistons’ three-guard attack—fellow backcourt pals Isiah Thomas (21.3 ppg) and Vinnie Johnson (17.0 ppg) were the only other Detroit players to average double digits in scoring—dominated the Lakers from start to finish, and Dumars was the best of the bunch, period.
1989 NBA DPOY: Mark Eaton, C, Utah (original); Akeem Olajuwon, C, Houston (revised)
There a very close vote for this trophy, won by Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton (6.6 DPS) over Houston Rockets C Akeem Olajuwon (7.8). The top candidates in our mind also include Jazz power forward Karl Malone (6.6), Utah point guard John Stockton (5.8), Chicago Bulls SG Michael Jordan (5.2), Cleveland Cavaliers SG Ron Harper (5.1), and Detroit C Bill Laimbeer (5.0). Eaton won this award in 1985, too.
Incredible to think Utah’s defense was that good as the Jazz were the only team in the league to hold opponents to under 100 points per game during the regular season. But none of those players can win our nod, of course. That leaves us with four prime contenders: The Dream, Air Jordan, Harper, and Lambs. Playoff margins were Detroit (23), Chicago (7), Houston (7), and Cleveland (17).
Thus, Olajuwon wins this award over Jordan, the winner from last year. The Dream also took this hardware home in 1987, by the way. With 9.4 defensive rebounds per game, 3.4 blocks per game, and 2.6 steals per game, Olajuwon personally ended 15.4 opponent possessions per game. Without those efforts, the Rockets would have missed the postseason.