1990 NBA Finals: Who Won the 1990 NBA Finals?

In the 1989 NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons finally broke through. After years of knocking on the door, they busted it down to win their first NBA Championship. Rugged forward Rick Mahorn left the team after that season, but the “Bad Boys” still had the best record in the Eastern Conference and squared off with the third seed from the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers, in the 1990 NBA Finals.

1990 NBA Finals: Who Won the 1990 NBA Finals?

The Pistons began the playoffs by sweeping the Indiana Pacers and beating the New York Knicks to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. They faced the third-seeded Chicago Bulls and had a classic seven-game series that saw the Pistons emerge victorious. The Portland Trail Blazers were routinely a playoff team but had not won the Western Conference since 1977. The Los Angeles Lakers entered the playoffs with the league’s best record, but they were stunned by the Phoenix Suns in the second round, opening the door for the Blazers. Portland beat Dallas in the first round, survived seven games with San Antonio, and then knocked off the Suns in six games in the Western Conference Finals. 

Detroit hosted Portland for the first two games and captured Game 1 by a score of 105-99. Game 2 went to Portland thanks to 33 points from Clyde Drexler and a clutch performance in overtime. With the series tied at one and headed to Portland for the next three games, the Detroit Pistons showed why they were defending champions. Joe Dumars scored 33 points in Game 3, and Detroit cruised to a 121-106 victory. Then Isiah Thomas went off for 32 points, and a late would-be game-tying three-pointer from Portland’s Danny Young was ruled after the clock had expired, and Detroit escaped with the 112-109 win. Portland had another fourth-quarter lead in game five, but Thomas’s 29 points led the Pistons to a late lead, and Terry Porter missed a three at the buzzer, giving Detroit a 92-90 victory and a second-straight NBA Championship.

Thomas averaged 27.6 points per game, eight assists, and 5.2 rebounds for the series. He earned NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and solidified his legacy as a stone-cold winner.