Michael Jordan considers Patrick Ewing and his Knicks squads to be his toughest playoff opponents, admitting that he wanted to play them in 1997.
Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing have a friendship that goes back before their NBA stints. The duo were formidable playoff opponents and were bastions of their respective franchise’s championship hopes.
They were teammates together for Team USA’s Olympics team in the 1984 Olympics, where they won gold convincingly. Jordan and Ewing were close to each other off the court despited some animated, physical battles through the course of their careers.
Ultimately, Jordan’s Bulls won every time that they faced New York in the playoffs. The Knicks took the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals in a 7-game series in MJ’s absence. This was the one season when he was retired from the game, playing minor league baseball.
Given their close association in classic basketball lore through the years, it is but obvious that MJ and Ewing have huge amounts of respect for each other.
Michael Jordan admits that he wanted to face Patrick Ewing and his Knicks in 1997
Jordan restricted his public appearances significantly after retirement. However, he maintained a relationship with a select few publications and journalists, with whom he consented to interviews over the years.
Slam Magazine had the opportunity to conduct one such interview with the GOAT in 2013. The subject of Patrick Ewing and his Knicks happened to come up, and MJ didn’t hesitate to give them their flowers.
Ewing had thrown the league a challenge that they’d win the playoffs in the 1996-97 season. However, they faltered in the Conference Semifinals, depriving Jordan an opportunity to face his old adversary once again. He was eager to take that challenge up, and in this interview, he explained why:
“Oh, I wanted to play them. I wanted to play them. I still don’t think they can beat us. He (Ewing) can say a lot of things. I mean, so what? He guaranteed…it don’t mean anything. The worst he can do is lose.”