5 great teams the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen Bulls totally ruined

Photos by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Photos by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls
19 May 1996: Forward Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls knocks the ball out of the hands of guard Anfernee ”Penny” Hardaway of the Orlando Magic during second quarter action of game one of the Eastern Conference Championships at the United Center in Chi /

3. Orlando Magic

While the fall of the Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal Orlando Magic had numerous causes, you can’t discount the beating Jordan and the 72-win Bulls gave Orlando in 1996. After making the NBA Finals in 1995 — beating Jordan and the Bulls along the way — Orlando seemed poised to grow and build on their momentum in 1996.

Although O’Neal battled injuries during much of the season, “Diesel” still averaged 26.6 points and 11 rebounds per game and made the All-NBA 3rd Team. Orlando didn’t miss a beat in O’Neal’s absence, as Hardaway, sharpshooter Nick Anderson and Horace Grant shouldered the load. Orlando finished with a 60-22 record, their best in franchise history.

After making short work of the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, the Magic were set to face off with the record-setting 72-win Chicago Bulls. With Jordan back at full power after his hiatus away from the game, the Bulls looked unstoppable.

Still, Jordan and the Bulls needed to get past Orlando who coupled a dynamic do-everything forward in Hardaway and maybe the most unguardable player in NBA history (O’Neal).


The Bulls swept Orlando 4-0 with no game being particularly close. Most notably the Bulls absolutely embarrassed the Magic in Game 3 holding Penny, Shaq and the Magic to just 67 points — the second-fewest in Magic franchise history.

Both O’Neal and Hardaway did their part scoring 27 and 25.5 points per game respectively but their performances were not enough to save the Magic’s season. Little did anyone know this was the last time the duo would take the court as members of the Magic.

In the offseason, largely due to O’Neal and Hardaway failed to get over the hump, discontention grew in Orlando. An offseason poll of fans revealed that many of Orlando’s faithful didn’t think O’Neal was worth a massive new contract. O’Neal took the fan’s opinion to heart and took his talents to the west coast signing a seven-year, $121 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.

While Hardaway and much of the core remained, things were never the same. Orlando would make the playoffs the following season but without O’Neal, the dynasty in the making never came to be.