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Penny Hardaway details how the Magic took down Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1995

Penny Hardaway, Michael Jordan, Magic, Bulls

Retired NBA star Penny Hardaway was a big part of the 1995 Orlando Magic squad that handed Michael Jordan his only playoff series defeat during the Chicago Bulls’ run of dominance in the 1990s.

Jordan, who was just coming back from a lengthy hiatus from basketball, was ambushed by the upstart Magic squad led by Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, and former Bull Horace Grant in the Eastern Conference semis.

Appearing on the Uninterrupted Podcast on Monday, Hardaway pointed out two keys on how the Magic vanquished the mighty Bulls in six games. The 6-foot-7 playmaker first credited the magnificent play of Grant, who was pretty much untouchable against his former team in that series.

“We just tried to make it as comfortable as possible. And Horace Grant had the series of his life. He almost didn’t miss a shot for the entire series from 15-feet out,” Hardaway shared.

Hardaway also admitted that the Magic took full advantage of the fact that Jordan was not in basketball shape that year. MJ spent over a year transforming his body for baseball, which led to his struggles upon his return.

Penny cited how His Airness didn’t have his usual bounce during that playoff run which ended against the Magic.

“The plays that he was laying the ball up, he had no explosion. He had no lift. He wasn’t dunking the ball that he was usually dunking. He was laying it up. It gave us the chance to block his shot from the weak side instead of him dunking on us. He didn’t have the lift that he had. He never had the spring on his legs. He never had that for the entire series,” Penny said (about Jordan losing to the Magic).

Sure, the Bulls exacted their revenge the following year, as the Jordan of old returned and swept the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1996. That Magic squad did not return to the Finals and was eventually disbanded when Shaq left for LA.

Still, Hardaway and that Magic squad will always have the distinction as the only team to get the better of Jordan and the Bulls at the height of their power.

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