While the basketball world reacted to Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith’s belief that the ’94 Houston Rockets would defeat the Bulls (H/T Dime/Uproxx’s Oliver Maroney) had Michael Jordan not retired and Scottie Pippen’s response to it, there was something lost in the traslation: The Jet admired the 90’s Orlando Magic.
That Magic team was special: Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott were young, tough and one of the Eastern Conference’s biggest threats not named the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.
Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith thinks so too! Smith, who suited up against the Orlando Magic in the 1995 Finals as a member of the Rockets saw potential in that young team.
“You know, anytime you have a guard and a big man it’s the perfect balance,” he told me on Scoop B Radio.
“They had the perfect balance and you had Penny who was so versatile that he could play inside, outside,” said Smith. “And you had Shaq with everything that he’s done and being so young. That was the dynasty missed; dynasty missed by the Orlando Magic, for sure.”
After a brief run with the Magic, Shaq realized his worth and signed a mega contract via free agency with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the center of the future and he, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson would rule the NBA and the Western Conference in the early 2000s.
Check out the interview with Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith and Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson below (the chat about the Orlando Magic begins at the 5:22 mark).
O’Neal ended up with the better career, winning multiple rings with the Lakers and then with the Miami Heat. Hardaway wasn’t as lucky. After O’Neal’s departure, he’d be the team’s lone star, but struggled with a devastating injury that cut short his promising career. After his time with the Magic, he’d bounce around the league playing for the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Miami Heat before retiring in 2007.
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