In 1996, the New York Knicks were on the verge of acquiring Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls, potentially altering the course of the NBA.
Michael Jordan is widely regarded as one of the all-time great basketball players. He is also considered a cultural icon. He is the first billionaire athlete, and his Air Jordan sneakers have become an iconic brand that has only grown in popularity since their debut in 1984.
The myths and stories that have accumulated during Jordan’s time as a pop-culture phenomenon are what make him legendary. His insane competitive streak, infamous gambling habits, and harsh treatment of teammates set him apart.
After winning six championships in a decade, Jordan helped elevate the Chicago Bulls to one of the world’s largest and most well-known sports franchises.
While it is easy to believe that Michael Jordan was always the highest-paid player in the NBA during his prime, this was rarely the case. Jordan signed an eight-year contract in Chicago worth approximately $25 million prior to the 1988-1989 season.
Michael Jordan was willing to take his talents elsewhere due to his massive underpayment, and the New York Knicks believed they could land his Airness.
Michael Jordan was on the verge of signing with the New York Knicks in 1996
The New York Knicks last won a championship in 1973 and have yet to win one since. The team represents the league’s most populous city and market; they have never won another championship.
In 1996, however, they were on the verge of making the most expensive free-agent signing in NBA history: Michael Jordan, who would torment the franchise for years. Jordan is also a Brooklyn native.
Michael Jordan and his agent, David Falk, discussed an $18 million “balloon season” for 1996-1997 during the 1996 playoffs. It was roughly what New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing was paid for the 1995-96 season, the highest one-year salary in NBA history at the time.
NBA: How Michael Jordan Almost Signed With New York Knicks – International Business Times https://t.co/rdDCccZPPl
— Michael Jordan nw (@MichaelJordannw) January 8, 2020
The Bulls anticipated that Jordan would demand more. They were willing to go as high as $20 million to compensate for Jordan’s years of underpayment in Chicago. Falk, on the other hand, had other plans and put together a deal that would have drastically altered the course of the NBA.
The Knicks were the Bulls’ best opponent during their dynasty, making Jordan’s acquisition very appealing. The Knicks allegedly made MJ an astounding one-year $25 million contract offer, handing the Bulls 24 hours to respond.
The Bulls couldn’t risk it and signed Michael Jordan to the highest-paying contract in American team sports history. Jordan penned a $30.14 million deal for 1996-1997.
The Bulls won two more championships before Jordan announced his retirement in 1998. However, the New York Knicks were unable to sign the NBA’s most wanted player.