Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee Hardaway reunite on NBA on TNT Tuesday

Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal made the Orlando Magic in 1995. (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dan)
Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal made the Orlando Magic in 1995. (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dan) /

Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway were reunited on the latest episode of the NBA on TNT Tuesday as the crew gave the Orlando Magic legend his due.

The 1995 Orlando Magic have been at the front of our minds throughout the NBA’s prolonged hiatus.

What might have previously been a muted celebration of the team’s 25th anniversary quickly became a much bigger focus on what is perhaps the greatest team in Magic history.

The Last Dance highlighted the 1995 Magic as the last team to defeat Michael Jordan in a Playoff series. And the hiatus gave FOX Sports Florida a chance to playback the 1995 Magic’s playoff journey starting with their series victory over those Chicago Bulls.

The hiatus became a chance to celebrate one of the best teams in Magic history — and indeed a team that still resonates with many people around the league.

It is hard to believe it has been 25 years since they took the floor. And still equally amazing how quickly their light burned out.

On Tuesday’s episode of the NBA on TNT, the sudio analysts wanted to make sure Anfernee Hardaway got his due. In a segment where they “give them their roses” they looked back on Anfernee Hardaway’s career.

It gave Anfernee Hardaway the chance for a mini-reunion with Shaquille O’Neal as they both reflected on their time with the Magic.

Shaquille O’Neal called Anfernee Hardaway a mixture of all the other great players he played with. O’Neal said he could take over games like Dwyane Wade, could pass the ball like LeBron James and had the killer instinct like Kobe Bryant.

If it were not for injuries, O’Neal said he would have been a clear-cut hall of famer. It is hard to argue that after four All-Star appearances and three All-NBA appearances in his time with the Magic.

Orlando went to the 1995 Finals with the two youngsters leading the way.

Vince Carter took the mic next and recounted how he played pickup games against Anfernee Hardaway while he was still at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach. But Carter said he did not realize Hardaway’s impact until he moved on to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Hardaway still makes a huge impact in the Memphis area, beyond just being the coach of the Memphis Tigers now as he tries to rebuild that franchise.

That story was made more poignant when Wade shared that Hardaway’s story of persevering through his hardships growing up in a tough Memphis neighborhood and working to get his grades up so he could play at Memphis impacted him.

Hardaway is an extremely influential figure in a lot of basketball circles. Even if his career ultimately ended shorter than it should have.

There have not been a lot of opportunities for that group to get together again publicly — especially the big stars in O’Neal and Hardaway. The Magic did not hold any special celebrations for the 25th anniversary of that team.

The last time they were together publicly was for the premiere of This Magic Moment and before that was the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando.

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Any time these two get together, it certainly brings up a ton of nostalgia and it is always, well, magic.