[The Athletic] - “I wanted it to be (with the Knicks), but we couldn’t work it out,” Magic Johnson told the New York Daily News in early February 1996. “It was a little bit more than just talk. We had talked about it, what would it take, the whole thing and the Lakers said no. And that was the bottom line.”
“If I feel the situation here is not conducive to (winning),” Johnson told Knicks reporters, “and if my fantasy I’ve always had about playing in the Garden for a minute is what I want, then I’ll do it … If I see that (the Knicks) stacked the deck and looked good, then hey, maybe I will come. I just want to win, and they’ve got a horse down there in the middle that makes that appetizing in big Patrick.”
So we got a little he said/he said situation here. The story reads that Magic Johnson wanted to force a trade to the Knicks in the 90s, after he came back from HIV. But, his agent said that never happened after Magic and Pat Riley both turned down interview requests. Here's the thing though. It's not crazy to think it would have happened.
Magic played for Riley. Look at those quotes he had. He talked about playing in the Garden. He wanted to play for the Knicks at some point. There's no doubt in my mind that part of it is true. The real thing was he wanted to be a part of them after seeing the 1994 NBA Finals (sure, what's ripping my heart out again, going to do). He realized they were one scorer away from winning that series, even though they should have won anyways.
I don't know what to think of this. On one hand, yeah, Magic was still a fine player when he returned and would have fit a role with the Knicks. Remember, Patrick Ewing didn't have a great second player. John Starks? Yeah, I love the dude but let's not pretend he was a great No. 2. Same goes for Oakley, Mason, Anthony, etc. I don't even care that Magic could barely dribble with his left hand. Just feed Patrick Ewing and get some buckets. Changes everything I know about the Knicks in the 90s.
Who knows how close to real it is. It's out there. Magic and Patrick Ewing post Dream Team challenging Jordan and Hakeem and Reggie? God I would have done anything - as long as the Knicks didn't give up a ton for him. Just mark Magic down as another star the Knicks 'almost' landed.