There were rumors that Michael Jordan was close to joining the New York Knicks in the summer of 1996. Jordan was looking for a huge contract from the Chicago Bulls, who were apparently 30 minutes away from losing arguably the best player in the history of basketball.
In an interview with Marvin R. Shanken of “Cigar Aficionado” in 2005, MJ said that he had spoken to the Knicks about the possibility of teaming up with Patrick Ewing.
He explained that there was a dialogue, but the Bulls were prepared to offer him a historic deal:
“If Chicago had not made a significant offer, New York was next,” Jordan said.
“We actually had a dialogue with New York. If a phone call didn’t come in 30 minutes from Chicago, we had already given assurances that we would have gone to the Knicks for less money.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Michael Jordan was looking to get paid after winning the 1996 NBA championship. The New York Knicks signed Patrick Ewing to a one-year, $18 million contract, and Jordan wanted more from the Chicago Bulls.
The Knicks reportedly had a one-year, $25 million offer to Jordan, and his agent David Falk gave the Bulls a chance to make a counter. Chicago didn’t hesitate, as they ended up signing MJ to a historic one-year, $30 million deal.
Jordan went on to win the NBA championship in 1997 and 1998. As for the Knicks, they lost to the Miami Heat in the 1997 Eastern Conference semi-finals. In 1998, the Knicks failed to make it past the second round again, this time losing to the Indiana Pacers.
Michael Jordan loved playing against the New York Knicks
Michael Jordan faced the New York Knicks 27 times during the NBA playoffs. Jordan has a 19-8 record against the Knicks, averaging 33.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game. The Knicks couldn’t beat the Chicago Bulls in a playoff series with Jordan on their roster.
Furthermore, the Bulls beat the Knicks in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996. New York were able to move past Chicago in 1994, but Jordan was playing baseball at the time.
The rivalry between the Knicks and Bulls is certainly compelling and entertaining, but it was one-sided when Jordan was involved.
Had Jordan joined the Knicks and formed a partnership with Patrick Ewing in 1996, the Knicks’ history could have panned out differently.
They were a team playing on the biggest market with the biggest player coming on. However, it was not meant to be, as Jordan cemented his legacy with two more seasons in Chicago.