The Big Apple vs. the Windy City is a rivalry between the two biggest cities in the East. The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks have faced each other every year since the Bulls first joined the NBA in 1966. The Bulls lead the Knicks overall with a 142-116 record.
The rivalry peaked at its most intense during the 90’s when both teams were true contenders, often facing off in high-stake, drama filled and intense games full of spectacular dunks, trash talk and immense physicality.
The Michael Jordan vs. John Starks match-up was one of the more intense rivalries. Starks was a rare example of a player who was able to at least limit the impact that Jordan had on court.
“Starks played extremely well defensively,” said Jordan after losing Game 1 of the 1992-93 Eastern Conference finals. “He really ‘bodied’ me up physically. He got me in tough positions where I couldn’t get the shot I wanted. A couple of them, I forced just because I was totally out of rhythm”.
Game 2 highlighted the Jordan-Starks rivalry with Stark’s best dunk of his career and quite possible at Madison Square Gardens, as he posterized over Jordan and Horace Grant.
Game 5 threatened to boil over in a battle between two friends. Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing who were friends and still are to this day exchanged angry words mid-court and were pulled apart.
The most ‘disrespectful’ moment in the history of the Bulls-Knicks rivalry however happened in the following postseason.
It was Game 6 of the 1993-1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals, and Scottie Pippen brought down the house by slamming the ball down Ewing’s throat.
Following the dunk, Pippen shoved an already unbalanced Ewing over and took it a step further by walking over and taunting Spike Lee, earning Pippen a tech foul.
Earlier on in the season, NBA Vice President of Operations Rod Thorn explained, “Trash-talking has always gone on. But the difference today is it’s a little more mean-spirited and an attempt to embarrass”.
He wasn’t wrong with Pippen, but Shawn Kemp took it up two hundred levels on Alton Lister as he double pointed in his face following one of the most explosive posters of all-time.
It’s fair to say if someone was to repeat what Kemp did, you’d get a technical foul for excessive taunting and a warning from the league and in the future, you’ll likely get life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Despite the Knicks not beating the Bulls in a postseason series while Jordan was in the league, the rivalry remained strong. Jordan destroyed the Knicks ruining much of the 90s for them and especially for Ewing.
Julius Randle vs. Zach Lavine won’t attract anywhere near the attention of Jordan vs. Starks, and the 92-93 playoff series had more highlights than in the last 27 years of the rivalry.
The two play together for the 257th time this Saturday, with both teams about 30+ games behind and outside of the play-off race.
Recapturing the magic of the rivalry depends on both teams being contenders and with superstars on both sides of the court, something which seems very far away at this point.
Shout out to all of those at #sportstalk. Originally posted at Wolf Gang Sports. I curate sports content on basketball, soccer, American football and more. Avid collector of sports jerseys, trading cards and streetwear paying homage to special moments in sports history. Check out the full blog and sign up to the newsletter to be the first to receive our sporting content that aims to provoke, thought, inspire and entertain.