Orlando Magic Rewatchables: Orlando Magic dethrones Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

The Orlando Magic hold the final playoff series win over Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic hold the final playoff series win over Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Nick Anderson, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls
The Orlando Magic’s classic series against the Chicago Bulls in 1995 will get a full replay on FOX Sports Florida (at least the good parts). (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport) /

In 1995, the Orlando Magic did the impossible and beat Michael Jordan in the Playoffs. We rewatched the series to learn what we can from a momentous series.

There were two competing narratives throughout the Orlando Magic’s 1995 Playoff run.

First was the coronation of a new contender. A team everyone saw developing and turning into a contender. They were ascending to their inevitable throne and putting the entire league on notice.

But they were still surprised this team was here this quickly.

The second-round series against the Chicago Bulls was supposed to be a humbling experience. The second story following this Magic team throughout that 1995 Playoff run was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This Magic team was too good too soon. Their inexperience had to come out at some point. They would get their lumps on the way to their inevitable contention.

And this was Michael Jordan, back from baseball. How could the media not turn toward Jordan, winner of three titles in the last four years?

The 1994 title probably went to the Houston Rockets because Jordan was not there — there are plenty of arguments as to why that might not have been the case, but the media even back then was not interested in nuanced arguments.

The young Magic, even with homecourt advantage, surely could not dethrone Jordan. Right? Right?!

The series was as back and forth as you would expect between titans in the conference.

The Bulls were always the favorite. . . until they were not. And nobody could deny this young Magic team was growing up and proving good enough to compete with the best.

The 1995 series against the Bulls showed plenty of the Magic’s youth and inexperience. It previewed perhaps some of the issues they would face against championship-tested teams — both in the 1995 NBA Finals against the Rockets and in 1996 against the fully operational battle station that was the 72-10 Bulls.

But it did not matter back then. This was a Magic team that did not seem to know the protocols around the league. They were too young to know what they still needed to learn. And too confident to let any of their warts stop them on the way to the NBA Finals.

“Why Not Us, Why Not Now?” was not just a rallying call from owner Rich DeVos. It was a statement of how fleeting and ethereal contention truly is.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Long before the free throws in Game 1 or the eventual dissolution of the team following the 1996 season, the Magic were a tour de force and destined for greatness. Defeating Jordan, the last team to defeat Jordan’s Bulls in a playoff series, was confirmation the team had that championship drive within them.

This was no longer about the team’s potential and what would be. This is about what was about the team’s present.

The Magic were good enough to defeat anybody in the league and stake their claim. This series win was all the confidence the Magic needed to get there. Only their immaturity and youthful exuberance caused them to come crashing off this high when the lights got brightest and the stage too big.

During the last week, FOX Sports Florida has re-aired all four wins from the Magic’s win over the Bulls. Having re-watched them all — and if you have not, the series is available in our Video Vault section — it feels like the series needs a thorough recap.

Stealing from our friends at The Ringer and their Rewatchables podcast (also The Book of Basketball 2.0), we will do a Rewatchables-style breakdown of this series as a written companion to our Facebook Live from May 3, 2020.

Even if you did not watch the FOX Sports Florida replay, hopefully this gives you a companion to one of the most important series in Magic history.