|Gerald Wilkins & Michael Jordan-|
Knicks-Bulls, was a great rivalry in the late 1980s and early 1990s . 1991 the Knicks were sort of in transition. They had a slower aging team, that was relying on guys way past their prime to be major contributors for them. Players like Kiki Vandeweigh. Who once was a high scoring small forward, who could shoot and drive, but now at best was a spotup shooter and not very consistent at that, because of his foot injuries. They also didn’t have the right head coach in Stu Jackson and not much depth once you got past Pat Ewing, Mark Jackson and Charles Oakley and Gerald Wilkins. The Bulls, were poised to win their first NBA Finals and now had all the pieces in place to go with Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson. They lost the last two Eastern Conference Finals, but only to the eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons.
The Knicks after upsetting the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs in 1990, didn’t even have a winning record in 1991. They made the playoffs with a 39-43 record taking the eighth spot in a 13 team conference, in a weak Eastern Conference, once you got past the Bulls and the Celtics and Pistons. The Bulls, were clearly the best team in the East in 1991. Even though it would have been nice to see them play the Celtics in the East Finals, instead of the Pistons, but stuff happens. (I guess) This game was set up to be a blowout at the Madison Square Garden. The Knicks, just looking to try to establish some momentum going into the playoffs. The Bulls wanting to show that they’re now the team to beat. Even though the Pistons were the defending champions.
But what made the Bulls-Knicks rivalry so great and perhaps the best rivalry in the NBA in the 1990s, is that records didn’t mean a whole lot. Plus were talking about Chicago vs New York and what those two cities and sports cities represent. The Bulls had the best swingman in the game if not the best player in the game at the time in Michael Jordan. The Knicks, had the best center in the game at the time in Patrick Ewing. They were also both great defenders and Ewing the great shot blocker and rebounder. The Knicks, were still a very solid defensive team and physical with Ewing and Charles Oakley. The game was at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks didn’t want to get embarrassed at home. Which is why the game was pretty competitive and, even if it was Michael Jordan’s show.