Orlando Magic Rewatchables: Unanswerable Questions from the 1995 Orlando Magic-Chicago Bulls series

As we revisit the Orlando Magic's series win over the Chicago Bulls, defeating Michael Jordan stands the test of history. (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan)
As we revisit the Orlando Magic's series win over the Chicago Bulls, defeating Michael Jordan stands the test of history. (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan) /
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Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic
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’s 1995 series with the Chicago Bulls was closer than history might remember. We wonder what would have happened if it tips the other way.

When the Orlando Magic entered the second round of the 1995 Playoff series, players acknowledged they had a weight lifted off their shoulders. They had won their first playoff series and shed the sweep that stunned them and drove them the year before.

There is rarely time to breathe in the playoffs. And for a franchise experiencing everything for the first time, the test was only going to get bigger.

The Chicago Bulls came calling in the second round of those 1995 Playoffs. And while the result feels inevitable now and the Magic continually showed their mettle throughout the series, everything was always in doubt.

The Bulls were the favorites. Michael Jordan was back and gearing up to his Playoff form. Nobody was going to bet against him. And nobody was ready to believe the Magic were ready to take the throne.

Orlando adopted the moniker, “Why not us? Why not now?” The team did not want to wait for its turn. The Magic had no reason to wait. Their window was open. And they proved very quickly in that series with the Bulls they were here to play.

Stealing the ball from Jordan in Game 1 was just the beginning. At every turn, Jordan put on a scoring tour de force. And at every turn, the Magic answered. The Bulls would win, the Magic would respond. The Bulls would take the lead and the Magic responded.

It is the landmark series in Magic history. One of the most shocking results in NBA history. And something that felt more than a blip.

Of course, it turned into something of a footnote in history — surely getting at least 10 minutes in The Last Dance. The Bulls would assert their dominance the following season and the Magic would fall apart — a victim of an odd loophole in the CBA, the changing economics of sports and naivete about how the league works.

The Magic confirmed their belief they were championship ready when they defeated the Bulls in 1995. And that changed everything.

Rewatching the series, it is clear how close the Magic were to losing that series. It was a tight series the entire way. As tight as six-game series can be. And it took some miraculous poise and finishes for the Magic to pull it out — not just Game 1, but also Game 6.

History goes a lot different if the Magic lose this series. As it does with any series. Failure forces teams to re-examine themselves. And a little hit to the Magic’s confidence at this early stage might have changed how they prepared for 1996, leaving them hungry to get to the Finals after experiencing a small dose of Playoff success.

These are the unanswerable questions left off from the Magic’s 1995 series against the Bulls.