John Swart/Associated Press
During Sunday's two episodes of The Last Dance, ESPN's documentary miniseries on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, the rivalry between the Bulls and New York Knicks was explored, namely their highly competitive Eastern Conference Finals showdown in the 1992-93 campaign.
In that series the Knicks took a 2-0 lead before Chicago won the next four games. And former Knicks star Charles Oakley put much of the blame for those losses on Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing.
"Patrick, at the end of the game, he'd get double-teamed," Oakley told Marc Berman of the New York Post. "He'd shoot fadeaways on double-teams and that hurt us as a team."
"My thing with [Jordan] is, 'It's not like you beat us by 20,'" he added. "Most games went down to two, three possessions. Y'all made shots. We didn't. The best player won. Michael was a better player than Patrick hands down."
As Oakley put it, Jordan was the headliner and Ewing was more of an opening act.
"The Bulls had Michael and we had Patrick," he said. "It's like seeing Beyonce and going to see someone trying to be Beyonce. If Beyonce is in town, everyone's going to see Beyonce. If Michael and Patrick are in town, everyone is going to see Michael. They had 'The Show.' We tried to stop them and we couldn't stop them."
To be fair to Ewing, he averaged 25.8 points and 11.2 rebounds in the 1992-93 Eastern Conference Finals and scored 33 points with nine rebounds in the decisive Game 6. It wasn't as though he didn't play well in the series.
Jordan also had Scottie Pippen, whereas Ewing had John Starks as a running mate. Starks played in one All-Star-Game in his career, while Pippen is a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest small forwards in history.
So while Oakley is a fan favorite in New York, it's hard to imagine his anti-Ewing comments will play well with the Knicks faithful.
But Ewing wasn't the only one Oakley put in his crosshairs. He also believed Phil Jackson outcoached Pat Riley in the matchup.
'Pat Riley never adjusted to the situation. At halftime we did the same thing. They trapped us full-court. We never did nothing like that to trap them and make them think about the game. We didn't make shots and played into their hands. With defense, they played a zone and built a wall. They knew Patrick wasn't going to pass out of the double team. Phil watched a lot of film. We watched a lot of film, but we were playing checkers and they were playing chess."
The rivalry was a fierce, if one-sided, affair. Between the 1988-89 and 1995-96 seasons, the Bulls and Knicks played each other in the playoffs six times, with the Bulls winning five of those series. The only series the Knicks won came in the 1993-94 season, when Jordan retired for the first time to pursue a baseball career.
The Knicks came closest in the 1991-92 season, taking the Bulls to seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. But those years belonged to Jordan and the Bulls.