The 90′s marked an era for great NBA rivalries. However, among all the decades great grudge matches, The Chicago Bulls VS The New York Knicks remain high on the list. You circled their match ups on the calender because they didn’t just play. They, as a certain little general would say, “battled.” Pat Riley’s Knicks, high on interior toughness but bereft of dependable, athletic perimeter defenders, employed the Jordan Rules throughout their match ups with the GOAT. Chuck Daly laid the ground work for the mindset but Riley’s take had its own caveats as seen in the forthcoming youtubey.
The most apparent difference between Riley’s and Daly’s videos is the rampant double and triple teaming. Here you’ll see more manipulation of spacing to get away with zone-like illegal defense. Riley tried to trap Jordan more than Daly who opted luring Michael into uncomfortable situations. Also the Knicks collapsed more on MJ than the Pistons yet he still managed to get his buckets. The hefty box scores didn’t come without a few turnovers, tough looks and even cuts to the face.
No three in the key also let Ewing park in the paint all day as Chicago’s front court didn’t leave much to worry about. Their offensively challenged bigs let NY’s front court rotate whenever Jordan saw daylight on the baseline. Plus the mismatch enabled them to show quite high in the back court on pick and rolls: Charles Oakley’s specialty.
The video mentions the Knicks’s stellar defensive efforts and how they limited Jordan to four 50 point games throughout their shared history. Jordan still averaged about 30 ppg on 49% shooting with 13 outings in the 40-point range in his Bulls career.* Yet most of the worst damage, along with the memories of Jordan torching Madison Square Garden, came when Pat Riley wasn’t around. Riley’s overzealous team defense ultimately saw the Bulls hold a winning record over his Knicks and also let this happen. You can’t fault Pat for trying though.