Penny Hardaway Says Horace Grant Had a Deep Hatred for Bulls After Joining Magic

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

Orlando Magic’s Horace Grant waves a towel in celebration after his team beat the Chicago Bulls 108-102 in Game 6 to clinch the Eastern conference semifinals on Thursday, May 18, 1995, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Barry Jarvinen)
Barry Jarvinen/Associated Press

Horace Grant played the first seven seasons of his career for the Chicago Bulls and won three championships in the Windy City, but there was no nostalgia when he faced his former team in the second round of the 1995 playoffs. 

By that point, Grant was on the Orlando Magic with Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal and others and was apparently driven by a "deep hatred" of the Bulls and some of his personal issues with Michael Jordan.

Hardaway revealed as much during an UNINTERRUPTED interview with Paul Rivera, Maverick Carter and Scott Burrell (14:59) (warning: contains profanity):

The Magic point guard suggested Grant was unhappy with the Bulls for not renewing his contract and didn't have the best relationship with Jordan, who, as The Last Dance documented, blamed the forward for being the primary source for Sam Smith's book The Jordan Rules.

Orlando ultimately won that series, and Hardaway praised Grant for having the "series of his life" on the way to per-game averages of 18.0 points and 11.0 rebounds. While it was the year Jordan returned from baseball and perhaps didn't have his legs fully underneath him after just 17 regular-season games, it was rare to see the Bulls of the 1990s fail in the playoffs.

Jordan averaged 31.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.5 steals a night in the series, but Nick Anderson stripped him of the ball in a key moment in Game 1 before he missed a critical shot near the end of Game 6.

Members of the Magic, including O'Neal, propped Grant up on their shoulders after they defeated the Bulls, but Hardaway said he had nothing to do with that and added "I knew not to wake them up" when talking about his legendary opponents.

Turns out, Hardaway was right.

The 1995-96 Bulls responded to the challenge by winning a then-record 72 regular-season games and sweeping the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals on the way to a championship. The Last Dance showed video of a Jordan press conference where he said he was motivated by Grant being carried off the court and Anderson's comment that No. 45—the number His Airness wore at first following his return—wasn't the same as No. 23.

The Bulls reclaimed their throne, but the 1995 Magic still have the distinction of being the only team that ever beat a Chicago team with Jordan playing in the playoffs from 1991-98.