On This Date in Sports May 22, 1994: Bye Bye Bulls

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The New York Knicks dethrone the Chicago Bulls, winning a seven-game series in which the home team won every game. In the finale, the Knicks beat the Michael Jordan-less Bulls 87-77 as Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley each had big games. Ewing led the way with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists, while Oakley added 17 points, 20 boards, and four assists.

No team gave the Chicago Bulls a harder fight nor were more frustrated by Michael Jordan than the New York Knicks. Going back to 1991, when the Bulls won their first NBA Championship, they started their march to history by sweeping the Knicks in the first round. The Knicks brought in Pat Riley the following season and began a new aggressive style of defense. This led them to the second round where they took the Bulls to seven games, one of the only times that Chicago was pushed to the final game during their six championships. In 1993, the Knicks thought they had figured a way to beat Jordan, as they won the first two games in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, the Bulls won the next four on the way to third NBA Championship, with Game 5 and Charles Smith failure to get a dunk down being the difference.

After three straight championships, the Chicago Bulls were stunned by the sudden retirement of Michael Jordan. Without Jordan, the Bulls still were among the best teams in the NBA under coach Phil Jackson, as they finished third overall in the East at 55-27. The Knicks meanwhile finished second at 57-25. The two rivals would meet in the second round after the Knicks beat the New Jersey Nets in four, while the Bulls swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in three straight.

In the opener, the Knicks used a big fourth quarter after trailing all game to beat the Bulls 90-86, as John Starks provided a spark of the bench with 17 points. With big games by Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen and B.J. Armstrong the Knicks again needed a big fourth quarter to record a 96-91 win as Patrick Ewing scored a game-high 26 points with nine rebounds.

The Knicks again had a big fourth quarter comeback in Game 3 as the series shifted to Chicago, with Ewing leading the way with 34 points, including a game-tying with 1.5 seconds left. The Bulls were on the verge of imploding as Scottie Pippen who had a team-high 24 points refused to enter the game. Pippen was angry that Phil Jackson designed a play for Toni Kukoc to get the game-winning shot. Jackson’s plan worked as the Bulls won 114-112, but all the talk surrounded the sullen Pippen. Scottie Pippen responded with 25 points in Game 4 as the Bulls evened the series with a 95-83 win.


Back at the Garden for Game 5, the Knicks got bailed out by a controversial foul call as Scottie Pippen was called for a foul on Hubbert Davis by referee Hue Hollins with 2.1 seconds left. Davis hit both free throws to give New York a controversial 87-86 win. Game 6, the final game at Chicago Stadium would be all Bulls as they kept the home fires burning with a 93-79 win.

The Knicks came out strong in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden as Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing pounded the boards for a combined 37 rebounds as the Knicks in their best effort of the series won 87-77 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year. The Knicks would go on to reach the NBA Finals beating the pesky Indiana Pacers in seven but fell to the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals in seven games.