Penny Hardaway robbed Michael Jordan of accomplishing Stephen’s Curry MVP milestone before him

Samir Mehdi
|Published August 25, 2022

Michael Jordan could’ve been the NBA’s first ever unanimous regular season MVP if not for the Magic’s, Penny Hardaway. 

Michael Jordan announced to the world that he was done with the Birmingham Barons towards the end of the 1994-95 NBA regular season. A simple ‘I’m Back’ fax was enough to send the entirety of the league into a tailspin as they knew the greatest player of their generation was returning to NBA hardwood as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls, like the year prior, they suffered a disheartening loss in the Eastern Conference Semis, this time to none other than Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway’s Orlando Magic. Of course, the season following the 1995 campaign would become one of the most iconic seasons of all time, that being the Bulls’ 72-win season. 

Despite 9 grueling years with the Bulls from 1984-93 in which he could’ve been named the MVP for all nine of those seasons, Michael Jordan proved he had so much more left in the tank in ‘96.  

He put up his usual, dominant stats of 30.4 points, 5.3 assists, and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 49.5% from field, all while leading his squad to, well, 72 wins. This was a record at the time, besting the 1972 Lakers’ 69 wins, set over two decades earlier.

Also read: Shaquille O’Neal’s complaint about LeBron James making $250 million draws criticism from Michael Jordan’s teammate

Penny Hardaway and two more led to Michael Jordan not achieving this milestone. 

There are a bevy of superstars over the years who deserved to have their MVP season be a unanimous one. Shaquille O’Neal in 2000, LeBron James in 2013, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 are all a couple of solid examples of this. One more that could very easily be added to this list is Michael Jordan in 1996. 

Unfortunately for ‘His Airness’, while he did win the 1996 regular season MVP, he did so with 4 doubters behind the scenes. MJ received every single first place vote for the award except for 4 total votes in which Penny Hardaway received two first place votes, and Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon got one each. 

It is unknown who voted for these three but for the Magic’s Penny Hardaway, who by the way, was an incredible player before injuries, to get two votes over Jordan is ludicrous. 

Steph Curry became the NBA’s first unanimous MVP 20 years later after leading the Golden State Warriors to a record that eclipses the Bulls’ 72 wins, with one extra.

Also read: Michael Jordan hatred for hip-hop outside of $1.3 billion legend was a fake story

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About the author

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi is an NBA Editor at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

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