"The Shrug Game" airs tonight on CSN

"The Shrug Game" airs tonight on CSN
November 30, 2011, 3:23 pm
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Five things to watch for in Comcast SportsNet Chicago's Wednesday night "Bulls Classics" broadcast of the Bulls' 122-89 Game 1 1992 NBA Finals victory over the Portland Trailblazers on June 3, 1992 (airing at 7:30 p.m.):

1) This game will forever be known as the "Shrug Game," for Michael Jordan's sly shrug after hitting his sixth three-pointer of the contest. With his 6-for-10 shooting from deep and 35 first-half points en route to a game-high 39 on the evening, there wasn't much else to accomplish after the intermission, as he left Portland completely demoralized, setting the tone for what would eventually be the Bulls' second consecutive championship. Not that Jordan hadn't proved he could make outside jumpers by that point in his career, but given how dangerous he was attacking the basket, Trailblazers were at a loss as to how to stop him. However, it wasn't as if Jordan had a one-track mind that night, as he also finished with 11 assists, proving a willing passer when the defense heavily committed to him.

2) Scottie Pippen's versatility was in full bloom by this point in his career, something made evident by his near triple-double of 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. While he wasn't quite the scoring threat Jordan was -- as if any other player was -- Pippen had to be fully accounted for by opponents, lest he take over games, which he was fully capable of doing by then. Pippen not only expertly complemented Jordan's game and enabled him to rest defensively by guarding the other team's top perimeter scorer, he could also shoulder the offensive load himself when necessary. With the two top wing talents in the game on the same team, rivals were at the Bulls' mercy.

3) Chicago's bench was also coming into its own, as B.J. Armstrong (11 points and six assists) provided offensive firepower, forward Cliff Levingston and young center Scott Williams (12 points and nine rebounds) provided hustle and Bobby Hansen gave the team additional perimeter shooting. Backup big men Will Perdue and Stacey King, now the Bulls' television color analyst, added even more interior depth. Besides Armstrong, none of the reserves had an especially noteworthy individual NBA career, but as a unit, their skills were a perfect match to spell Chicago's starters.

4) Portland, which also lost to Detroit in the 1990 NBA Finals, was one of the better teams to never win a title during that era. Under Rick Adelman, the new coach of the Timberwolves, the Blazers had a deep and talented lineup, led by star shooting guard Clyde Drexler and steady floor general Terry Porter in the backcourt. They also had great size up front, with center Kevin Duckworth, underrated power forward Buck Williams and athletic small forward Jerome Kersey. Off the bench, the key players were perennial Sixth Man of the Year award candidate Cliff Robinson, blue-collar Mark Bryant and sharpshooter Danny Ainge, now the Celtics' top executive.

5) Drexler (16 points on 5-for-14 shooting) didn't have his best outing that particular evening, but the All-Star was regarded as one of the best players at his position in that era -- perhaps second to only Jordan -- something confirmed by his selection to the 1992 Dream Team. In fact, Drexler's all-around skills rivaled Jordan, as his size, athleticism, versatility and scoring ability put him in the upper echelon of players in the league. Some fans may remember Drexler as the reason Jordan ended up in the Bulls uniform in the first place. His presence in Portland -- along with that of veteran swingman Jim Paxson, the brother of Bulls guard John Paxson (both Paxsons currently work for the Bulls; John as the executive vice president and Jim, Cleveland's former general manager, as a scout) -- led the Blazers to select center Sam Bowie with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, one choice after Drexler's college teammate at the University of Houston, Hakeem Olajuwon went first to the Rockets.