As much as they despised him, the New York Knicks always wanted Michael Jordan. Jordan revealed later how it could have actually come true. Michael Jordan was on the verge of signing with the New York Knicks in 1996 after his eight-year deal with the Chicago Bulls left him undervalued.
Although MJ did not criticize his long-term contract, he did say that the Bulls had made a lot of money (probably from him) and that it was time to pay some back.
Jordan discussed the Knicks rumor with Marvin Shanken, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado, in 2005. “If Chicago had not made a significant offer, New York was next,” MJ said. However, it was not to be in the end. Jordan’s agent, David Falk, gave the Bulls “one hour, maybe the rest of the day” to offer his client a contract that was far greater than the one-year, $25 million agreement the Knicks were willing to offer His Airness.
Michael Jordan was prepared to sign with the Knicks in 1996 if the Bulls didn’t have a better offer.
AND Shaquille O’ Neal was also interested in signing with the team.
The Knicks have such a rich history of dropping the ball in free agency. (h/t u/porzingisfromdeep) pic.twitter.com/Mo2aylwYD5
— Basketball Forever (@bballforever_) July 10, 2019
“We actually had a dialogue with New York. If a phone call hadn’t come in 30 minutes from Chicago, we had already given assurances that we would have gone to the Knicks for less money,” Mike added. The Chicago Bulls soon countered with a $30 million offer, and MJ signed the richest single-season deal in NBA history at the time. And that’s how the Chicago Bulls re-signed one of the greatest players of all time.
What if Michael Jordan joined the New York Knicks?
Jordan in a Knicks jersey sounded appealing. He would have been the biggest celebrity in the world’s biggest media market, and he would have had a chance to build out his own legacy in addition to the one he had earned in Chicago. Because Patrick Ewing was close to Jordan and had been attempting to lure him to New York for years, the Knicks were convinced they could land him.
But if the Knicks really did land Jordan, it would be a great match. MJ and Patrick Ewing have been friends cum rivals since they were in college in the 1980s. In the 1982 NCAA championship game, the two Hall of Famers faced off. The North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas 63-62 with Jordan’s game-winning basket.
Jordan and Ewing also competed together at the Summer Olympics in 1984 and 1992. They also played significant roles in the tense Bulls-Knicks rivalry of the 1990s. We’ll never know how Michael Jordan would have done with the Knicks since the Bulls opened up the vault to protect their hero. In the years following, the Knicks have constantly failed to recruit big-name free agents ranging from LeBron James to Kevin Durant.