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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Most Rewatchable Sequence

The Steal

Is there any other acceptable answer?

This is the biggest and most important moment in Orlando Magic history. So much was riding on the game. And it all seemed like it was crashing down as the Bulls asserted themselves late in the game.

The Magic had to prove themselves against an established power and one of the best players in the league’s history (at the time, perhaps not the greatest yet, but he probably was).

It did not matter if the Bulls were not at their best because of Jordan’s late return. This would lend the Magic legitimacy and prove they were ready to play in big games. At this point, people still questioned whether the Magic were truly ready to contend.

Orlando and Chicago went toe to toe in a game that was tight all the way through. Orlando lost a six-point lead late. And then it was a battle.

Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal ran a great pick and roll that ended with O’Neal sinking two free throws. Then the Bulls came back down and got a Toni Kukoc alley-oop to Scottie Pippen to give the Bulls a one-point lead.

The Magic tried to force the ball inside to Shaquille O’Neal and could not then to Anfernee Hardaway cutting across the lane. B.J. Armstrong stole the ball and got a timeout. It was botched execution and one of several bad plays the Magic ran late in that game.

The shot clock was off and the Bulls were up one. It looked like Chicago had taught a lesson to Orlando.

Everyone knows what happens next.

Michael Jordan gets the inbound and has to shake Nick Anderson. Anderson takes a swipe at the ball and Jordan gets past him. Expecting a foul, perhaps, Jordan slows down to take more time off the clock, looking over his shoulder to find Anderson.

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  • He loses him for a moment and Anderson pokes the ball away perfectly to Hardaway. Anfernee Hardaway finds Horace Grant for the dunk and the Magic lead.

    Still, Jordan has six seconds to work with and a chance to win the game. He drives past Donald Royal into the lane, but Donald Royal stays close enough to stay in his line of sight. Jordan tries to pass underneath to Pippen at the last moment and turns it over.

    Two turnovers in the final 15 seconds of the game. It is rare to see Jordan come up short late in games like this.

    And it happened again and again in Games 3 and 6 especially. The Magic had stolen the game (literally). And it was an entertaining and memorable sequence that got them there for the final minute of that game.

    Other Nominees

    Dennis Scott’s Game 5 binge

    Dennis Scott scored 21 points and hit five 3-pointers in the Magic’s Game 5 victory. He went on a long scoring binge in the third quarter to close the deficit and give the Magic the lead seemingly for good. It was a preview of how important the 3-point shot would become for this team and the league.

    Clinching 14-0 run in Game 6

    The Magic were headed to a Game 7. Jordan was dominant in Game 6 and Pippen was playing exceptionally well too. Then all of a sudden, the Magic catch fire. O’Neal starts hitting shots. Anderson hits some key shots. Brian Shaw makes some incredible plays. And the defense shuts down the Bulls offense. When Anderson hit the go-ahead basket in the final minute, things became very real. And the Magic lifted Grant on their shoulders to celebrate the win.

    Since we are stealing The Ringer’s idea, be sure to check out Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo discuss Game 6 of the 1995 series on The Bill Simmons Podcast