Michael Jordan meant summer vacation for Eastern Conference playoff teams throughout this career.
The Knicks were one of the most frequent recipients of Jordan’s dominance, getting eliminated by his Bulls five times without ever claiming a series. Jordan dealt punches New York has yet to shake off, contributing heavily to Hall of Fame big man Patrick Ewing’s lack of rings.
In addition to the talent the Knicks boasted at the time, Madison Square Garden and the aura of basketball in the Big Apple perhaps elevated Jordan’s showings against the franchise. Many of those moments are highlighted in “The Last Dance” on Sundays as ESPN’s documentary on Jordan’s career (and final championship push) moves into the mid-90s.
Here are the key stats that illustrate what Jordan meant to the Knicks’ playoff hopes.
Michael Jordan’s legacy vs. New York by the numbers
Jordan’s 55 points at Madison Square Garden in 1995 marked his best career scoring output against New York. He scored 50 points against the Knicks on four occasions in his career.
Jordan hung at least 40 points on the Knicks in the playoffs on seven occasions, including his 54-point showing in Game 4 of the 1992-93 Eastern Conference Finals. His best all-around stat line against New York might have been his 40-point, 15-rebound, nine-assist, six-steal effort in the 1988-89 Eastern Conference semis.
Jordan averaged 32.4 regular season points per game against the Knicks as a member of the Bulls.
Jordan hit 17 jumpers in his 54-point playoff effort against New York, helping the Bulls even the 1992-93 Eastern Conference Finals 2-2 and gain momentum on their way to a three-peat.
Almost of all of Jordan’s shots came with John Starks in his face, many on questionable looks. Starks had held Jordan to 3 of 18 shooting the previous game.
Jordan’s performance was summed up well by a first-half reaction from Marv Albert on the TV broadcast: “Well that wasn’t a good shot, but he feels it.”
Just one of his field goals in the game came via layup.
Jordan shook off a trio of defenders on his way to a legendary dunk in New York in the first round of the 1990-91 Eastern Conference.