Luckily for O’Neal — or unfortunately, depending on the game — a large chunk of his career came when Jordan was in the NBA. While on the Orlando Magic, O’Neal matched up with Jordan in extremely-competitive games between two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
Those matchups allowed O’Neal to see how frightening Jordan could be, both with his skillset and his tongue. Years after both retired, O’Neal still laughed about how Jordan humiliated Nick Anderson, O’Neal’s teammate on the Magic.
O’Neal enjoyed Michael Jordan’s feud with Nick Anderson
For a time in the 1990s, any game between the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic had the potential to be must-see TV.
But for the Orlando Magic to do anything, they needed to get past Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls — and Jordan would do anything he could to stop the Magic in their tracks.
In a 2012 interview with Dan Patrick, O’Neal recalled Jordan telling him how he was going to humiliate Anderson during a game between the Bulls and Magic.
“’I’m coming down. I’m going to dribble it between my legs twice. I’m going to pump fake, and then I’m going to shoot a jumper. And then I’m going to look at you.’ And that’s exactly what he did.”
O’Neal told Patrick that he was never the target of too much trash talk from Jordan.
Anderson and Jordan famously crossed paths in the 1995 playoffs
Michael Jordan and Nick Anderson had a brief but memorable feud in the 1990s, right after Jordan returned from playing minor league baseball.
Chicago and Orlando faced off in the second round of the 1995 Eastern Conference playoffs. Jordan, who retired after the 1992-93 season, rejoined the Bulls in March 1995.
Wearing No. 45 instead of No. 23, Jordan needed time to regain his old form. Anderson didn’t care about time, and he stole the ball from Jordan late in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Orlando hung on and won that game, leading Anderson to remark after the game, “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to. No. 45 is not No. 23.”
Jordan donned No. 23 starting in Game 2, but Chicago still lost the series in six games. Jordan got the last laugh when the Bulls won the NBA Finals every year from 1996-98.
Michael Jordan never backed down from trash talking
Shaquille O’Neal should thank the basketball gods that he was never the target of Jordan’s ruthless wit and trash talk.
If Jordan honed in on someone, it was game over. Jordan bullied teammates and enemies alike, never holding back if someone got in their way.
Take Muggsy Bogues, the longtime Charlotte Hornets point guard who stood 5 feet 3 inches. Bogues said that Jordan used a slur against him that referred to people of smaller stature.
Unfortunately for Nick Anderson, he came into Michael Jordan’s sight. And when the time came for Jordan to humiliate Anderson, the Bulls legend lived up to his word.