Knicks big men Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley were close friends with Jordan, but that didn’t stop His Airness from wanting to destroy the Knickerbockers. The six-time champion always wanted to win, but his level of competitiveness went up against the Knicks because he knew how badly they wanted to take his throne.
Michael Jordan on Knicks: “It’s like fighting your big brother or little brother”
The Bulls and Knicks had an intense rivalry in the ’90s. The two teams met in the 1989 Eastern Conference semifinals, the first round of the 1991 playoffs, the 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals, the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals, and the 1996 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Jordan knew how motivated the Knicks were to beat the Bulls, which is why he and his teammates made it a point to send New York a message every time they faced Ewing and Co.
“Anybody that was trying to take something from us, that’s a rivalry,” Jordan told Ahmad Rashad back in 2013. “Every game we played, we tried to send a statement. We trying to make sure they don’t gain anything on us. As long as Patrick was gonna be there, as long as Oakley is gonna be there, as long as Starks was gonna be there, it’s like fighting your big brother or little brother. You gotta let ’em know who you are. This is where you belong.”
Ewing is one of the greatest players in NBA history. He made 11 All-Star teams and averaged 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks with the Knicks in 1,039 games. However, the Hall of Famer never won a championship, and Jordan played a significant role in Ewing never holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Michael Jordan never lost to Knicks in playoffs
Jordan eliminated Ewing and the Knicks from the playoffs five times. The only series New York defeated Chicago was the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals. Jordan wasn’t in the NBA that season. He was playing baseball for the Birmingham Barons.
Jordan averaged 33.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists against the Knicks in the playoffs. The closest Ewing and New York got to eliminating the Bulls was in the 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals. The series went seven games, and Chicago needed 42 points from Jordan to win Game 7 at home.
The Knicks did take a 2-0 series lead against the Bulls in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. However, Jordan and Co. won four consecutive games to advance to the 1993 Finals, where they defeated the Phoenix Suns for their third straight championship.
The two times the Knicks got to the Finals with Ewing, Jordan wasn’t in the NBA. New York lost the 1994 Finals to the Houston Rockets while Jordan played baseball and fell short against the San Antonio Spurs in the 1999 Finals during Superman’s second retirement.
Jordan tormented New York his entire career, which is why he was upset the Bulls and Knicks didn’t meet in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals.
MJ wanted to play Knicks in 1997 ECF
Before the 1997 playoffs began, Ewing said the Knicks would win the championship. However, New York lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games, which disappointed Jordan.
“Oh, I wanted to play them,” Jordan said in the summer of 1997 after winning his fifth ring. “I wanted to play them. I still don’t think they can beat us. He (Ewing) can say a lot of things. I mean, so what? He guaranteed…it don’t mean anything. The worst he can do is lose.”
Jordan finished his career with six championships and six Finals MVPs. Meanwhile, the last time the Knicks won the title was back in 1973.
Unfortunately, Ewing could never reach the promised land during his stellar career, and Jordan was a big reason why. It’s why Knicks fans still have a lot of bitterness toward the Bulls franchise to this day.