Knicks vs Bulls: 'The Last Dance' Reveals How Michael Jordan's Rivalry With New York Intensified From 1989-1996

Throughout its first six episodes, The Last Dance has cast the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks as the Chicago Bulls' main rivals throughout their six-title reign.

Last week, ESPN's 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan's final season with the Bulls detailed the bitter feud that developed between Detroit and Chicago as the former delayed the beginning of the Bulls' dynasty by three years.

On Sunday, Episode 6 delved into the rivalry that defined the Eastern Conference after the Pistons abdicated in 1991 as Chicago became for the Knicks what Detroit had been for the Bulls.

"We hated each other. It was extremely physical. It wasn't really a foul until you drew blood," former Knicks center Patrick Ewing said in the documentary.

Built around Ewing, the Knicks reached the Eastern Conference semifinals 11 times in 12 seasons from 1989 but never managed to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy aloft.

The Bulls played a bigger role than anyone else in preventing the Knicks from winning an NBA title.

Here's how the rivalry developed.

1989 Eastern Conference Semifinals—Chicago Bulls 4-2 New York Knicks

The No. 2 Knicks and No. 6 Bulls split the two opening games in New York before Chicago won both games at home. The Knicks pulled the series back to 3-2 by winning Game 5 at home before Jordan, whose buzzer-beater in Game 5 had eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, hit the series-winning free throws with four seconds left in Game 6 as the Bulls won 113-111 at home.

Jordan scored at least 40 points in three games, compiling a staggering 40-point, 15-rebound, nine-assist, six-steal effort in Game 3.

1991 Eastern Conference First round—Chicago Bulls 3-0 New York Knicks

The Knicks had to wait two seasons for the chance to avenge their 1989 defeat but were no match for the Bulls in 1991 and were swept aside 3-0 in a series notable for Michael Jordan's monstrous dunk on Patrick Ewing in Game 3, which he finished with 33 points.

1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals—Bulls 4-3 Knicks

The Bulls arrived into the playoffs as the defending champions and the top seed in the Eastern Conference but the fourth-seeded Knicks took a surprise lead in the series by winning Game 1, which to date remains the franchise's only postseason win in Chicago. The Bulls roared back to take the next two games, before New York won Game 4 and 6 at the Madison Square Garden to force the series to Game 7.

After a very close series—in the first five games the two teams were separated by an average of just 7.2 points and Game 6 was the only game with a double-digit winning margin—the decider was an anticlimax as the Bulls thrashed the Knicks 110-81 with Jordan scoring 42 points—one of the seven times he hung at least 40 points against the Knicks in the postseason.

1993 Eastern Conference Finals—Bulls 4-2 Knicks

By 1993 it was the Knicks' turn to arrive into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the East, while the second-seeded Bulls looked for their first three-peat.

The prospects of a third consecutive title looked dead and buried as the Knicks took a 2-0 lead courtesy of two closed wins, the second of whom featured John Starks famously dunking over Jordan and Horace Grant with 47 seconds left in the game.

The Bulls, however, responded like a champion team and won both games back in Chicago, with Jordan putting up 54 points in Game 4—still the most points by a single player against the Knicks in a postseason game.

Starks had held Jordan to 3-of-18 from the field in Game 3, but MJ hit 17 jumpers in Game 4.

B.J. Armstrong's clutch three-pointer gave the Bulls the edge with 1:16 left in Game at Madison Square Garden in Game 5, before Charles Smith was stopped four consecutive times by Grant, Jordan and Scottie Pippen at the end of the game. With the series back in Chicago and momentum firmly behind the Bulls, the defending champions dispatched the Knicks 96-88, despite Jordan shooting just 8-of-24 from the field.

1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals—Knicks 4-3 Bulls

With Jordan enjoying his first retirement, the Knicks finally exorcised their demons.

As they had done 12 months earlier, the Knicks took a 2-0 lead, before the Bulls stormed back, winning Game 3 104-102 thanks to Toni Kukoc's buzzer-beater and then taking Game 4 95-83. The Knicks prevailed by a point back at the Madison Square Garden, before the Bulls forced the series to a decider after winning Game 6, which proved to be the franchise's final ever game at the famous Chicago Stadium.

The Knicks, however, clinched Game 7 in New York to move into the Conference Finals, where they would need another seven games to get past the Indiana Pacers. Incredibly, the Knicks also went the distance against the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals, this time losing in seven games.

1996 Eastern Conference SemifinalsBulls 4-1 Knicks

The final instalment of the rivalry between the Bulls and the Knicks came in 1996, Jordan's first full season back in the league. MJ put up 44 points as Chicago took Game 1 at home, before opening up a two-game lead.

The Knicks won Game 3 at Madison Square Garden by three points despite Jordan's series-high 46 points, but the Bulls took Game 4 by the same margin with Bill Wennington the unlikely hero, hitting the winner with 36.9 seconds left.

With the series back in Chicago, the Bulls comfortably took Game 5 en route to sweep Orlando in the Conference Finals, avenging the 4-2 loss they had suffered against the Magic 12 months earlier.

Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks
Michael Jordan (L) tries to dribble past New York Knicks guard Charlie Ward on 14 May, 1996 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the United Center in Chicago. The Bulls won the series 4-1. Brian Bahr/AFP/Getty
Knicks vs Bulls: 'The Last Dance' Reveals How Michael Jordan's Rivalry With New York Intensified From 1989-1996 | Sports