Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls had to fight hard to become NBA rules. His Airness faced big obstacles on his way to becoming a six-time world champion, including the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics, 'Bad Boys' Detroit Pistons, and ultimately, the Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers.
MJ entered the league with high expectations around him, and he tried to fulfill them several times without any success. The Pistons prevented him from winning the title when Jordan looked ready to go and battle it out with Magic Johnson in the Finals.
In the 80s, MJ couldn't get past the Celtics and Pistons, but once the 90s arrived, he took over the league and dominated everybody on his way to the championship. Out of those three legends, Jordan knew that beating at least one of them would validate his quest and first championship.
He won his first title by beating Isiah Thomas in the Eastern Conference finals and then Magic in the Finals. Talking with Stuart Scott in an old interview where he talked about all the legends he stopped from winning the championship, he also touched on his first ring, saying that beating Magic Johnson made it more special than it was (7th slide).
"If we didn't have the opportunity to beat Magic Johnson in 91, you can be sure I would have some thoughts about it. I would have gotten over it, but just being able to beat Magic Johnson, the king at that time of winning championships, five championships at the time, gave our championship some credibility. Time goes on and people don't think about it, but initially, that's the first thought."
After that first championship, Jordan would go on to win two more, finishing his first three-peat. Following a short stint out of the court, he returned in 1995 and won three more championships from 1996 through 1998. They always say the first championship is the most special and it seems like Jordan remembers that one as the reason why the other championships meant something to the rest of the league.
Some could say he had to wait until the Lakers and Pistons got old, but these teams still gave the league trouble, and it took a special talent like MJ to beat them.