Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan loved playing at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks‘ home arena was MJ’s favorite place to play, and he put on spectacular shows seemingly every time he played in the Big Apple.
Jordan knew his opponents were scared of him since he was an assassin on the basketball court. However, the Bulls icon was also aware that certain Knicks fans hated it when he came to Madison Square Garden since they knew what would happen.
Michael Jordan on Madison Square Garden: There’s some people that don’t want to see me come there
During an interview with SLAM Magazine in 1997, Jordan talked about why he enjoyed playing at Madison Square Garden so much. The five-time MVP also admitted some people dreaded seeing him in New York.
“Yeah, I love it… ’cause the history—everybody knows about basketball in New York City,” Jordan said. “And this is where you come see the best basketball played. That’s what Madison Square Garden’s always meant to me. And they’re very loyal to their fans, yet they’re very honorable about good basketball Every time I put up a big game in New York, it’s paying tribute to the respect they pay me. There’s some people that don’t want to see me come there. But…tough s***.”
Jordan was a thorn in the Knicks’ side during his Hall of Fame career. Not only did he have several dominating games at Madison Square Garden, but he also prevented New York from reaching the promised land.
Michael Jordan averaged 31.6 points against New York
In 60 career games against the Knicks, Jordan averaged 31.6 points. On March 28, 1995, His Airness dropped 55 points at Madison Square Garden in what is known as the “double-nickel” game.
With the Bulls, Jordan faced the Knicks five times in the playoffs. He won each series and prevented Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing from winning a championship. The closest New York got to eliminating Jordan was in the 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals. The series went seven games, with the Bulls winning Game 7 at home behind 42 points from Jordan.
The UNC product’s final game at Madison Square Garden came in a Washington Wizards uniform during the 2002-03 season. Although it was strange to watch Jordan play in New York while not wearing a Bulls jersey, the six-time champion proved to the Knicks crowd that it didn’t matter how old he was or what team he was playing with for him to have a magnificent game.
Black Jesus said goodbye to MSG by dropping 39 points
On March 9, 2003, Jordan scored 39 points at Madison Square Garden. Even though the Wizards lost, 97-96, it was incredible to watch a 40-year-old destroy his younger opponents.
The Chicago Stadium and United Center were the arenas Jordan called home for the majority of his career. However, the allure of MSG was so special to the 10-time scoring champion that he made it a point to give the Knicks crowd stellar performance after stellar performance every time he laced up his shoes in New York, even if he knew deep down it was killing them to watch their team get demolished by him.