Shaq and Penny’s Magic, the biggest mess of the ’90s

Who was the last team to beat the Chicago Bulls WITH Michael Jordan In the playoffs? The question may surprise. Because over time, some exploits are forgotten. In the collective unconscious, MJ is the man who never loses. Because six finals and many titles. His failures date back to the late ’80s, when he broke his teeth against the Detroit Pistons and their fierce defense – to put it mildly. But once he found the recipe for success, “Superman” Bulls became invincible. or almost. A team dropped him in his “head” (even if there’s a nuance to add). Orlando Magic Shaquille O’Neal And the Benny Hardaway.

We beat Jordan Bulls in the second round. Nobody did that in the ’90s. When I bet, especially with the guys, on the last team that beat Jordan, I make money every time. people forget Shaq told GQ in 2016.

That was almost twenty years ago, in 1995. The Magic had just begun its rise to the top. Because the franchise was too small! Only in 1988 the National Basketball Association established itself in Florida, first in Miami. Then in Orlando a year later. And at the time, there was no other choice but to build through the draft. That’s good, magic hit the jackpot two years in a row. The first two choices in a row. In 1992, at the time of the arrival of a certain professional player from Shaquille O’Neal. Then in 1993. Then the leaders wanted to choose Chris Weber, the NCAA star in Michigan, to form an infernal racket. But it doesn’t satisfy Shaq, the newly elected member of the royal family, who has another possibility on his mind.

You’ve met Benny on me Blue chips platter. I tested it a bit. So when I got home, I talked to GM. I told him, I know we have our first draft, and I know you want Chris Webber, but I just got back from playing with this guy, Benny Hardaway, and he’s the one we need. I put a little pressure on talking about the expiration of my contract which would have come in two years, if he hadn’t taken it… »

Magic Shack and Penny, stronger than Jordan’s bulls

message received. Well almost. Orlando still paints Webber with his first choice. And Shaq had gone to smash everything in his house… before realizing that magic had already forged the inside to trade it off with the Warriors for Benny Hardaway. The birth of… a magical duo. Two complete stars. A flamboyant, athletic, explosive leader, with a strong inner, agile and energetic. ” It was perfect. It was the remix duo Magic Johnson – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar! Giant noted. Despite their inexperience, the two friends led their team to the playoffs. First attempt and sweep, 0-4, against the Indiana Pacers. Reggie Miller. But it does not matter, there is time.

Thus comes the famous 94-95 season. Jordan is no longer there. He has taken his (first) retirement and the path is clear for a new dynasty. Especially since the Houston Rockets, the defending champions, are in trouble during the regular season. Orlando became a stronghold in the East. Horace Granta bullfighter, joined forces with O’Neill and Hardaway. Nick Anderson And the Dennis Scott They are the two factors that complement the main five. Really strong group. And even more solid than Chicago…and yet it’s boosted by the return of No. 23. Finally No. 45. De Gogo, what.

A few weeks before the playoffs, the three-time NBA champion announced his return to basketball after a short spell in baseball. Clearly, he no longer had the same confidence. It is shiny, but a bit rusty. And magic takes advantage of it. Despite Jordan’s 38 points in Game 2, 40 in Game 3 and 39 in Game 5, the Florida team qualified for the East Finals by winning in six sets (4-2). They will even make it to the finals. To find the rockets, ruthless and surprising during the playoffs. but even with Hakim Aliwan In contrast, Shaq and Penny feel like a favorite.

We were so sure of ourselves ‘ admits the eccentric commander.

The great team is gone too soon

Game 1 could prove that they are right. Magic took a three-point lead in the last minute. Then Anderson missed, not twice, not three, but four consecutive shots. Houston snatched overtime. before taking it. heartbreak. players Brian Hill will not recover. Then they were swept back 4-0. Frustration begins to build. But after all, Shaquille O’Neal is only 22 and Penny Hardaway is 23. Again, there is plenty of time.

The team is programmed to dominate at one point or another. Maybe as early as 1996? 62 regular season wins…and still 10 times fewer than the Bulls. Invincible, or almost invincible, the “Windy City” forces led by Michael Jordan are back at the top of their game. And he wants revenge. Fortunately, Orlando and Chicago found themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals. For a new tight duel? Not right. 4-0. Third sweep in a row.

That’s a lot. Too much on the shack that cracks. Especially since Magic doesn’t even offer him the maximum while the All-Star Hub is a free agent. What a mistake. Upset, O’Neill succumbs to developments Jerry West And heading to Los Angeles. Penny finds herself alone. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by a lot of pressure, and then the young star restrained injuries.

Jordan and the Bull won three more titles, in ’96, 97, and 98. But then, there was freedom… for the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal and copy print. another breed. further west. Looking back, Shaq will admit that he left Orlando very soon. The magic will eventually pass this master. Defeats were necessary. But he had room for something big.

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