The Suns are slight favorites going into the Finals, even with Jordan at the top of his game. Before Game 1 he has to address the gambling story as well his losses on the golf course.
JORDAN (from 1993, appearing on NBC in a pair of dark shades that made him look like, well, a gambler): It was a means of relaxing with my family [though his family was not around when he gambled in Atlantic City] and my friends, and it got me ready to play the game.... A lot of people say, well, maybe you shouldn't have done it at that particular time .... Well, no one knows what's a good or a bad scenario unless you're the person going through it. I felt that it was good that I get away. It just so happens that it was Atlantic City and people took that further than what they should've. I didn't let it affect what my main objective was, and that is to go out there and show loyalty to my teammates.
WILLIAMS: Within the team Michael's gambling was absolutely not a factor. Nobody ever said anything about it. And as it turned out, it just pissed him off, which is what you don't want to do with Michael Jordan.
BARKLEY (jokingly): They used to ask me about Michael and his golfing. And I used to say, "I'm not sure Michael is such a good golfer judging by the numbers they've throwing out there about his losses."
As the city revels in Suns fever, Phoenix drops the opener 100--92. Johnson is particularly bad, with 11 points, two assists and five turnovers.
JORDAN (to reporters in 1993): We maintained our poise. That's part of the maturity of our team, especially on the road. We don't lose our composure, and we do the right things down the stretch.
BARKLEY: We came out very nervous, and that surprised us. Maybe it was their experience and our inexperience.
JOHNSON: No matter what anyone says about being ready, nothing will prepare you for the pressure of the Finals when you've never been there before. You're accustomed to 10 cameras, and now there are 200. I would advise any team that feels it can win a championship to go watch a Finals together before they get there.
BARKLEY: They did a great job of taking it out of my hands. [Barkley had 21 points on 25 shots.] It was a nightmare trying to pass out of that double team. They talk about Dennis Rodman being a great defender? Hell, I was covered by Horace Grant, 6'10" with long arms, and I'd see Scottie, 6' 8" with long arms, coming, and I'd say, Oh, s---. And then the window was even smaller because that damn Michael was always lurking. If you didn't throw a perfect pass out of the double team, that sumbitch would get it.