Magic were confident they could beat Michael Jordan, Bulls after Game 1 in 1995
Michael Jordan is one of the few players who own a perfect winning record in the Finals, with the Chicago Bulls legend winning all six of his trips. However, more than a few folks may have forgotten that Jordan and the Bulls actually failed to make the Finals in 1995, losing out to the Orlando Magic in the second round of the playoffs.
This memorable series was featured in the last episode of The Last Dance, and former Magic player Nick Anderson shared his thoughts on the matter. According to the 6-foot-6 swingman, they were extremely confident at that time that Orlando was more than capable of taking down the then-not-so-mighty Bulls, and he explained why:
“No. 45 is not No. 23,” Anderson stated.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 11, 2020
Michael Jordan made his return to the NBA towards the latter part of the 1994-95 season, opting to wear the No. 45 jersey instead of his familiar No. 23 shirt. He only played in 17 regular-season contests, and as the playoffs kicked in, it was clear that MJ was not yet in tip-top condition.
The Magic, led by the duo of a young Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, took full advantage of it and defeated the struggling Bulls 4-2 in the series. Orlando actually went all the way to the Finals that season, but they were swept by the Houston Rockets in the championship series.
Come next season though, Jordan reverted back to his famed No. 23 jersey. The Bulls finished the season with a record-breaking 72-10 win-loss tally that campaign, and as fate would have it, they faced the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals that season.
Jordan and the Bulls extracted their revenge against Orlando, sweeping Anderson and company in the series, and in the process, re-establishing their team as the very best in the league.