Michael Jordan's Agent Talks Icon's 1996 Return, Potential of Joining KnicksMay 8, 2020
David Falk, Michael Jordan's agent, said Thursday it would have taken a "disaster" for MJ to join a team other than the Chicago Bulls as a free agent following the 1995-96 NBA season.
Falk, who also served as the agent for the New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing, told SiriusXM NBA Radio he would have loved for the superstars to play together, but Jordan was still set on spending his entire career with one team at the time:
The five-time NBA MVP ultimately spent two more years with the Bulls, winning a pair of championships to bring the franchise's total to six during their 1990s dynasty, before his second retirement. He earned over $63 million in base salary over those two years, per Spotrac.
Jordan returned to play two seasons with the Washington Wizards starting in 2001, so he didn't ultimately play his entire Hall of Fame career with one organization.
By at least one account, the power structure of the NBA was almost changed in 1996, though.
Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune, who's been featured in ESPN's The Last Dance documentary about the '90s Bulls, reported in August 1997 the Bulls were given as little as one hour to decide whether to beat the Knicks' one-year, $25 million offer for MJ during the 1996 offseason.
Although some believed Jordan's interest in New York was a "bluff," with sources close to the superstar telling Smith he'd "never leave Chicago," the report noted the face of the NBA was "privately angered" his camp had to negotiate with a chief rival to secure a lucrative deal from the Bulls.
"The Bulls believed they were doing their part by making Jordan the highest-paid player in the history of American team sports," Smith wrote. "Jordan believed the Bulls were not showing the proper appreciation and respect by making him go out and get a better offer to push his deal higher."
Falk's comments Thursday suggest Jordan was never close to actually signing a deal with the Knicks, so perhaps it was indeed a bluff all along.
Yet for longtime Knicks fans, who haven't celebrated a championship since 1973, the failed effort to land the NBA GOAT is another "what if" situation to ponder amid an extended rebuild.