Five things to watch in Comcast SportsNet Chicago's "Bulls Classics" broadcast of the Bulls' Game 4 Eastern Conference Finals win over the New York Knicks on May 31, 1993 (airing Monday night at 7:30 p.m.):
1) Another one of Michael Jordan's signature performances for the ages occurred, as the legend poured in 54 points to will the Bulls to a hard-fought, 105-95 victory. Jordan scored efficiently, shooting 18-for-30 from the floor, despite various Knicks defenders hanging all over him and when he ventured into the paint, having to soar past their malice-intentioned big men, who vigorously enforced the "no-layup rule." It wasn't as if Jordan could rest on the other end of the court either, as he had to defend relentless shooting-guard counterpart John Starks.
2) This series is considered one of the most testy affairs in NBA postseason history, as evidenced by the multiple on-court altercations and hard fouls exchanged between both squads. After conquering the Pistons in the past, the Bulls refused to be be bullied by the physical style of the Knicks. Regarded as a classic rivalry and involving two major media markets, the Bulls-Knicks clashes of the 1990s defined that era of the NBA.
3) The Knicks, coached by Pat Riley, never won a championship during the Bulls' reign, as they were often stymied by Jordan's brilliance, not to mention his outstanding supporting cast and Phil Jackson's strategy. However, they would advance to the NBA Finals during Jordan's brief first retirement, losing to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. New York always had players who developed a cult following in those times, with the likes of brawny ex-Bull Charles Oakley, fellow enforcer and native New Yorker Anthony Mason and grocery bagger-turned-Jordan antagonist Starks becoming local heroes in the Big Apple.
4) Patrick Ewing, arguably the greatest Knick of all-time, is regarded as one of the best players to never win a title. The top overall pick in 1985, the first year the NBA instituted the draft lottery -- a circumstance that made many observers believe the league was rigged -- went under-appreciated for much of his career, as New Yorkers lamented the fact that he didn't bring the franchise a championship. Playing in era with other great centers, such as David Robinson, a young Shaquille O'Neal and the aforementioned Olajuwon, let alone Jordan, Ewing's combination of dominant defense, traditional low-block post play and feathery jumper carried the team for years, despite never having a true secondary-scorer sidekick.
5) With all the stars in the series -- Jordan, Ewing and Scottie Pippen were all on the first Dream Team -- Doc Rivers flew under the radar. But the Chicagoland native and current Celtics coach started next to Starks in the Knicks' backcourt and fit the gritty style Riley emphasized to a tee. While Riley is probably better known for the fast-breaking, "Showtime" Lakers of the 1980s, his Knicks team were a rugged bunch, something that clearly influenced Rivers' coaching philosophy when examining his defensive-minded Celtics teams.