Bulls–Knicks rivalry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bulls–Knicks rivalry
Teams involved
  • Chicago Bulls
  • New York Knicks
First contested October 23, 1966
Number of meetings 247 meetings
Most recent meeting April 13, 2014
(Madison Square Garden)
Next meeting October 29, 2014
All-time series 138-110 (CHI)
Regular season series 114-98 (CHI)
Postseason results 24-12 (CHI)
Longest win streak
Current streak CHI W1
Post-season history

The Bulls–Knicks rivalry is a rivalry between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The two basketball teams have played each other every year since the Bulls first joined the NBA in 1966. However, the rivalry began to grow in intensity during the late 1980s and early 90s, when both teams became huge playoff contenders. This was due to a variety of factors: the great frequency in which the teams competed against each other in high-stakes contests and playoff series; well-known players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, and John Starks; the reputations of the team's respective cities; and personnel changes and conflicts between the teams. The two teams met in the playoffs seven times between 1981 and 1996, with the Bulls winning six of those series. They have not met in the playoffs since 1996.

The rivalry was dormant through much of the 2000s, with both teams rebuilding after the retirements of Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan. However, with the arrival of future NBA MVP Derrick Rose in 2008, the Chicago Bulls began experiencing success once again. In the summer of 2010, the Bulls signed Carlos Boozer and the Knicks signed Amar'e Stoudemire, making both teams playoff contenders once again. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler joined the Knicks soon after, and the rivalry between the two teams appears to have been reborn.

1981-1988: First Playoff Meeting and Aftermath[edit]

The two teams' first playoff meeting was in first round of the 1981 NBA Playoffs, a best-of-three series. Chicago, under head coach Jerry Sloan, won both games to sweep the series against New York 2-0. Chicago would be swept in the next round by the Boston Celtics, the eventual champions, in a best-of-four series. Sloan was fired during the 1981-82 Chicago Bulls season.

In the 1984 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls used their first-round pick (3rd overall) to select shooting guard Michael Jordan, who would eventually lead Chicago to six NBA Championships in the 1990s with teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, under the direction of head coach Phil Jackson. The next year, the New York Knicks used their first-round pick (1st overall) in the 1985 NBA Draft to select center Patrick Ewing, who would go on to become one of the Knicks' most notable players over the next fifteen years.

1988-1993: Chicago Bulls first dynasty[edit]

The Knicks and Bulls met in the playoffs for the second time in 1989. This time, the rivalry was much more pronounced, as the Knicks had just won their first Atlantic Division title since 1971 with a 52-30 record and clinched the 2nd seed in the East. Meanwhile, 6th-seeded Chicago won just 47 games, but was led by reigning NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Michael Jordan. The Bulls won Game 1 in New York, and all three in Chicago to upset the Knicks 4-2 and qualify for the Eastern Conference Finals, which they lost in six games to the eventual champion Detroit Pistons.

When the two teams met again in 1991, their roles were reversed. Chicago led the East with a then franchise-best 61 wins to capture the Central Division title. On the opposite end, the Knicks limped into the playoffs at 39-43 with the 8th seed. Chicago cruised past New York in a 3-game sweep, winning each game by an average of 20 points. They would go on to claim the first NBA Championship in franchise history.

In 1992, the Bulls, led by Jordan and Pippen, were on their way to their second straight title when they met the Knicks led by Ewing and new head coach Pat Riley in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The series went to a decisive Game 7, which the Bulls won 110-81 to advance. This kick-started the intense rivalry and made the Knicks into an Eastern Conference powerhouse, replacing the Pistons and Celtics. This was the first of two Game 7's that the Bulls faced in the six seasons they won a championship, the other with the Pacers in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. This particular series became intense, with several players, particularly Michael Jordan, Xavier McDaniel, Scottie Pippen, and Greg Anthony getting into arguments.

Shortly afterwards, there was a moment of peace in the rivalry, with Ewing, Jordan, and Pippen winning gold medals as members of the "Dream Team" at the 1992 Summer Olympics. Ewing, Jordan, and Chris Mullin are the only basketball players to win gold medals as amateurs and professionals, having won at the 1984 Summer Olympics.[1][2] Jordan and Pippen, along with LeBron James in 2012, are the only players to have won an NBA championship and Olympic gold medal in the same year, though Pippen is the only player to accomplish this feat twice, as he played for the Bulls in 1996 and Team USA at the 1996 Summer Olympics.[3]

In the 1992–93 season, the Knicks finished ahead of Chicago in the regular season and had home court advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals. The series had the notable highlight of Starks dunking over Horace Grant and Michael Jordan late in Game 2. However, despite being down 2–0, the Bulls came back and won the next 4 (by doing so, they became the 1st team in NBA history to overcome a 2-0 series deficit in a best-of-7 series, the 2nd team that year, and 4th overall), including a 97-94 Game 5 victory in New York. The game was notable as Knicks forward Charles Smith was stopped 4 straight times by a series of blocks and strips in the final seconds while trying to score. The Bulls won Game 6 96-88 to advance to the 1993 NBA Finals, where they beat the Suns in 6 for their first three-peat.

1993-1998: Chicago Bulls second dynasty[edit]

With Jordan's absence in 1993–94 the Knicks had the upper hand and compiled the second best record in the East. The Bulls, led by Pippen and newcomer Toni Kukoč, met the Knicks in the second round, where the series went 7 games. Game 3 of the series was marred by a brawl between Jo Jo English and Derek Harper in which both players rolled into the stands. What made things worse was that the brawl took place with NBA Commissioner David Stern in attendance. The Bulls had a 19-point lead entering the 4th, but the Knicks tied it with 1.8 seconds left on a Patrick Ewing hook shot. Scottie Pippen famously refused to take the floor after Phil Jackson drew the final play for Kukoc, who hit a buzzer-beater to win the game. In one of the most argued calls in NBA history, a questionable foul was called by Hue Hollins (who ironically was the same referee who officiated the controversial finish in Game 5 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, and arguably opted not to call a foul on Charles Smith's multiple putback attempts in the waning seconds) in the closing seconds of Game 5 against Pippen, which gave Hubert Davis two free throws to turn a one-point deficit into a one-point victory for the Knicks.

After a blowout Bulls win in Game 6, the Knicks advanced past the Bulls with a series-clinching 87-77 win, but eventually lost to the Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals, which denied New York City the distinction of having both NBA and NHL championships in the same year (Chicago saw this same verdict in 1992. Though the Bulls won their championship that year, the Blackhawks lost theirs), as Madison Square Garden hosted the Rangers' first Stanley Cup celebration in 54 years, following their win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals during the NBA Finals. This was the only time the Knicks were able to beat the Bulls in the playoffs during this rivalry. Also, all the games in the series were won by the home team, and the Knicks had home court advantage in the series.

In 1994–95, Jordan returned in the latter half of the regular season. In his return to the Garden, his 5th game back, Jordan scored 55 in a Chicago win. This game lifted Jordan's confidence after a mediocre performance in his "comeback game" against the Pacers. They didn't meet in the playoffs that season, but the animosity between the teams still grew.

During the Bulls' record-setting 1995–96 season, they suffered their worst loss of the season to the Knicks, 102-74 in March.[4][5] Two months later, they defeated the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 5.

During the Bulls' second three-peat, they only met in the playoffs once; in 1996 when the Bulls defeated the Knicks. It was also during this period that other teams in the East grew to be contenders, such as the Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, and Miami Heat. All of these teams had their own heated battles with either the Bulls or Knicks in the playoffs.

In the 1990s, both Knicks Finals appearances (1994 and their Cinderella march of 1999) followed a Bulls' 3-peat, but the Knicks lost both times to a team from Texas (Rockets & Spurs).

1998-2010: Dormancy[edit]

In 1999, a year after the Bulls' second 3-peat, the Knicks made history by becoming the first #8 seed to ever make the NBA Finals. The rivalry died after the second departure of Jordan in which the Bulls fell out of prominence. The Knicks also rebuilt when John Starks, Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, and Derek Harper were traded. The Knicks would make the Conference Finals in 2000, only to lose to the Indiana Pacers in 6 games. After the season, the Knicks traded Patrick Ewing and gradually declined until they fell completely out of prominence a few years later.

Both teams would struggle throughout the 2000s, with the Bulls finishing at the bottom or near the bottom of the league from 1999 until 2004. It was not until the 2004-2005 season that they would finally return to the playoffs. The Knicks would struggle as well, only appearing in the playoffs once in a 9-year period from 2002 until 2011 and not finishing above .500 until the 2010-2011 season.

Prior to the 2005 season, the Knicks traded first-round draft choices in 2006 and 2007 to the Bulls for center Eddy Curry, who missed the Bulls' 2005 playoff run with a congenital heart defect. When the Knicks finished the 2005-06 season at 23-59, the Bulls' good fortune turned into a gold mine, as the 2006 pick became the second overall choice following the draft lottery. The Bulls used the selection on LaMarcus Aldridge but traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers for the fourth overall selection, Tyrus Thomas. Thomas struggled in his time in Chicago before being traded to the Charlotte Bobcats in 2010, while Aldridge has blossomed into a young star.

However, the Bulls still got the much better end of deal as Curry struggled in New York. Additionally, the Bulls swapped picks with the Knicks in the 2007 NBA draft, and yielded the #9 pick. They used the pick to draft Joakim Noah. In the summer of 2008, the Bulls and Knicks both heavily courted former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni. D'Antoni's style was said to better suit the Bulls, but D'Antoni opted for the Knicks. Despite the Knicks having better odds, the Bulls won the 2008 NBA Draft lottery and selected Derrick Rose with the 1st overall pick, putting a temporary dent in D'Antoni's rebuilding plans in New York.

2010-present: Rebirth[edit]

After the conclusion of the 2009-2010 season, the Knicks signed veteran player Amar'e Stoudemire from the Phoenix Suns. On February 21, 2011, the Knicks acquired superstar small forward Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2004. In the summer of 2010, the Bulls hired Tom Thibodeau as their new head coach, continued to develop Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, and acquired Carlos Boozer. Both teams returned to prominence, with the Bulls posting the best record in the Eastern Conference and qualifying for the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.

In the 2012 NBA Playoffs, both teams suffered first-round exits. Despite both teams' recent success, the Knicks and Bulls have not met in the playoffs since 1996.

During the 2012-2013 season, the Bulls swept the revitalized Knicks in all four regular season games, despite playing without superstar point guard Derrick Rose. One of the games saw Mike Woodson, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah and Carmelo Anthony ejected from the game.

Christmas Day Appearances[edit]

The two faced each other on Christmas Day for the first time in 1986, the Knicks won 86-85 on a buzzer-beater by Patrick Ewing.[6][7] This was the first of two meetings between Ewing and Michael Jordan on Christmas Day.

During the 1990s, each Christmas (except for 1998) revived the rivalry, as it featured a game involving either (or both) team(s).[8] Both played each other in 1992 and 1994,[8] and would have played in 1998, if there had not been a lockout.[9] The only year during the 1990s in which neither played on Christmas Day was 1995.[10]

The Bulls played on Christmas in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1996, and 1997, the Knicks in 1999.[8] Both teams met again in 2010, their first Christmas confrontation in 16 years, the Knicks won 103-95.[8][11]


Many felt that the significance of the rivalry was due to the bragging rights of the two biggest cities in the East: the Big Apple vs. the Windy City. The physical play of the teams made it intense, especially in the playoffs. The matchup between Jordan and Starks brought some drama as they were often in each other's face and showcased a number of highlight dunks on the opposing team. Despite the Knicks not winning an NBA title or beating the Bulls in a series while Jordan was in the league, this rivalry was considered the most contentious of the '90s.

Head to head[edit]

The results in brackets concern the playoff games.

Season at Chicago Bulls
at New York Knicks
1966-67 105-124, 98-103, 110-107, 131-116, 103-106 116-104, 133-132, 122-121, 103-117 3-6
1967-68 106-96, 102-100, 118-126, 103-112 125-123, 121-99, 109-101 2-5
1968-69 83-94, 102-101, 98-105 96-100, 119-97, 114-107 2-4
1969-70 87-116, 99-108, 117-120 114-99, 116-96, 123-104 0-6
1970-71 98-106, 109-103 96-99, 98-87, 102-109 3-2
1971-72 122-96, 116-91, 99-102 100-99, 108-113, 3-2
1972-73 90-86, 84-83 97-83, 98-100 3-1
1973-74 115-97, 80-108, 69-85, 89-80 2-2
1974-75 91-104, 101-84 90-95, 94-97 3-1
1975-76 93-94, 95-110 96-89, 93-85 0-4
1976-77 108-88, 105-87 108-91, 123-103 2-2
1977-78 97-99, 129-117 112-103, 108-96 1-3
1978-79 94-118, 107-104 96-101, 143-148 3-1
1979-80 102-120 124-117 0-2
1980-81 130-121, 117-114, 94-112
105-97, 97-101, 127-117
1981-82 108-111, 131-107 121-106, 139-140, 116-120 3-2
1982-83 91-85, 91-93, 103-120 119-109, 94-79 1-4
1983-84 102-96, 111-113, 96-113 107-113, 109-92, 115-113 2-4
1984-85 95-93, 113-97, 109-104 106-121, 119-113, 106-97 4-2
1985-86 96-113, 114-101, 111-98 94-97, 118-111, 96-106 4-2
1986-87 101-99, 109-110, 115-96 103-108, 86-85, 108-112, 4-2
1987-88 97-95, 131-122 90-89, 110-98, 118-121 3-2
1988-89 108-106, 129-124, 104-100
(111-88, 106-93, 113-111)
126-117, 122-104
(109-120, 114-97, 121-114)
1989-90 117-109, 107-106 109-106, 108-111 3-1
1990-91 108-98, 108-106
(126-85, 89-79)
92-102, 91-101
1991-92 99-89, 99-98
(89-94, 86-78, 96-88, 110-81)
85-106, 90-96
(86-94, 93-86, 100-86)
1992-93 89-77, 98-104
(103-83, 105-95, 96-88)
112-75, 89-84
(98-90, 96-91, 94-97)
1993-94 98-86, 76-92
(104-102, 95-83, 93-79)
86-68, 87-78
(90-86, 96-91, 87-86, 87-77)
1994-95 107-104, 111-90 93-89, 111-113 3-1
1995-96 101-94, 107-86
(91-84, 91-80, 94-81)
79-99, 104-72
(102-99, 91-94)
1996-97 88-87, 101-103 97-93, 103-105 2-2
1997-98 100-82, 111-109 89-90, 89-102 4-0
1998-99 68-73, 76-63 79-63 1-2
1999-00 74-84, 95-88, 78-67 0-3
2000-01 86-91, 81-72 95-68, 101-80 1-3
2001-02 84-79, 113-109 78-71, 101-104 3-1
2002-03 101-94, 100-98 98-86 2-1
2003-04 96-101, 87-81 99-104, 96-82 2-2
2004-05 86-84, 92-91 86-88, 94-102 4-0
2005-06 106-104, 109-101, 101-108 2-1
2006-07 102-85, 98-69 95-106, 103-92 3-1
2007-08 101-96, 100-105 85-78, 83-100 2-2
2008-09 105-100, 110-103 102-98 2-1
2009-10 98-89, 118-85 88-81, 109-115 3-1
2010-11 112-120 103-95, 90-103 1-2
2011-12 104-99, 98-86 102-105, 100-99 3-1
2012-13 93-85, 118-111 106-110, 101-108 4-0
2013–14 82-81 1-0


Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Total wins 137 108
At Chicago Bulls 87 35
At New York Knicks 48 68
Neutral Court 2 5
Regular season wins 113 96
At Chicago Bulls 69 34
At New York Knicks 42 57
Neutral Court 2 5
Playoff wins 24 12
At Chicago Bulls 18 1
At New York Knicks 6 11

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Games of the XXV Olympiad – 1992". USA Basketball Inc. Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Games of the XXIII Olympiad – 1984". USA Basketball, Inc. Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ Smith, Sam (August 4, 1996). "Dream Team's Sleepwalk Ends with Gold Medal". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. 
  4. ^ Wise, Mike (March 11, 1996). "So Much for Karma. Knicks Stomp Bulls". New York Times. p. C1. 
  5. ^ Armour, Terry (March 11, 1996). "New York Nightmare: Knicks Return to Old Ways in Rout of Bulls". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. 
  6. ^ Goldaper, Sam (December 26, 1986). "Ewing, at Buzzer, Steals the Show". New York Times. p. D7. 
  7. ^ Sakamoto, Bob (December 26, 1986). "Knicks, Ewing Get Better of Bulls". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. 
  8. ^ a b c d Beck, Howard (December 25, 2010). "Feeling Fuzzy About Holiday Slot". New York Times. p. B11. 
  9. ^ Rosenbloom, Steve (November 29, 1998). "Selling Point". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. "The NBA told NBC it has canceled the Bulls and the rest of the traditional Christmas doubleheader—Bulls-Knicks and Lakers-Suns." 
  10. ^ DuPree, David (December 26, 1995). "Magic ground Rockets 92-90". USA Today. p. 1C. 
  11. ^ Mahoney, Brian (December 25, 2010). "Christmas surprise: Knicks win one with defense". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved December 26, 2010.