Did Michael Jordan Ever Play for the New York Knicks?

Published 05/20/2021, 1:18 PM EDT
The Bulls’ Michael Jordan drives to the basket as teammate Dennis Rodman and the Clippers’ Loy Vaught(left) look on during game at Sports Arena earlier this season. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


The era of the 1990s proved to be a dominating spell for the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. They won six titles under head coach Phil Jackson while Michael Jordan was key to their success. Such was the influence of Jordan that he elevated the game of basketball to the whole wide world.

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Even though the league had a lot of other superstars, Jordan stood out from the rest. The Bulls brand grew all over the world because of the performances displayed by Jordan on the court. After all the success, MJ wanted a new challenge, and a bumper contract as the Bulls organization expected him to leave the franchise for the New York Knicks.

But how did it not materialize?

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Chicago Bulls All-Star forward # 23 Michael Jordan playing against New York Knick # 20 Rolando Blackman at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Tom Berg/WireImage)

Michael Jordan wanted to leave for the New York Knicks

During the early 90s, the Bulls signed Jordan on a 25 million contract for eight years. However, the chairman of the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf, immediately offered another contract because of his incredible performances. It was the first time something like that has ever happened in the NBA.

But as time flew by, Jordan’s contract became old-fashioned as other players were earning more. Patrick Ewing had recently signed a one-year deal for 18 million which was the highest-paid contract during that era.

Reinsdorf wanted to keep his top player as they offered him up to 20 million. But in stepped the Knicks as they plotted for a 25 million offer to Jordan.

With the help of Jordan’s agent, the owners of the Sheraton Hotel offered him a contract with other bonuses included in the deal as they had the superior market share of the Knicks. Notably, the NBA usually rejects the idea because of the cap-space restrictions but this was Michael Jordan. Arguably the greatest player of all time, the marketability he got to the league was tremendous.

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Why was the deal canceled?

Jordan wanted to team up with Patrick Ewing as the Knicks were looking to win an NBA championship after years of dominance by the Bulls. Moreover, they had the financial muscle to pull off the deal as well. But Jerry Reinsdorf had other plans as he put up an offer of 30 million. Subsequently, Jordan signed the contract.

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Michael Jordan stated how angry he was in not getting the deal he wanted after his service to the Bulls. Even though he signed the contract, Jordan expressed his disappointment on how he touted himself to the Knicks to get a deal out of his beloved Bulls team.

However, the lingering doubts were brushed away as he signed the contract. The organization did not disclose the details of the potential deal between the Knicks and Bulls. In conclusion, the deal would have changed the complexion of the whole league.

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Jacob Gijy

110 articles

Jacob Gijy is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the centre the respect he deserves.

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