It was March 8th in 1998, when the Chicago Bulls faced of against the New York Knicks in the Madison Square Garden. At that time, nobody knew, even though there were some speculations, that it might so happen to be Michael Jordan's last game at the legendary arena. It ended up being the last game Jordan played in MSG wearing a Bulls jersey and in someway symbolically end the rivalry between the two teams that shared quite a few battles in the '90s.
In an interview before the game, Ahmad Rashad said Jordan wanted to pay respect and remember the old days by wearing his original 'Chicago' Air Jordan 1s from 1985. The shoes shrank during years, so they were pretty hard to play in, but Jordan managed to put on a show for everybody in attendance that night in Madison Square Garden.
"It's been a long time since I wore them and it's funny coming back and playing and remembering some of the old days and some of the games I had here and the shoes are apart of that. But, my feet are killing me."
Jordan finished the game with 42 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals, showing absolute brilliance on both ends of the floor. The Bulls won the game 102-89, and after the game, Jordan said his mentality was to play hard starting from the first minute. He was aware that might be his last game in the arena unless the same two teams don't meet in the playoffs. Jordan always respected the rivalry and the challenge facing the Knicks throughout the years.
"I came in to play hard, and every time I came here, it's fun, you want to play hard and always has a challenge with the Knicks. I come in with the same focus, and today is no different."
In the upcoming episode of The Last Dance, Jordan talks about that specific game against the Knicks and remembers how his feet were bleeding from wearing those shoes. He didn't want to change the shoes, because he had a great start to the game, and just continued playing through the pain. Jordan felt the pride kick in and didn't want to lose the edge he immediately felt was his when he started the game, making one unbelievable shot after the other.
"By halftime, my feet are bleeding, but I'm having a good game, and I don't want to take them off. I couldn't take those shoes fast enough, and when I took the shoes off, my sock was soaked in blood."
Michael Jordan, The Last Dance
MJ on wearing his original 'Chicago' Air Jordan 1s from 1985 in his last game at MSG as a Bull (42pts): By halftime my feet are bleeding, but I'm having a good game, I don't want to take them off. I couldn't take those shoes off fast enough, and when I took the shoes off my sock was soaked in blood from r/nba