Twenty years ago today -- the same day Reggie Miller squeezed the life out of the Knicks with eight points in nine seconds -- Orlando Magic guard Nick Anderson accomplished something perhaps even more impressive.
He made Michael Jordan look foolish.
In March 1995, Jordan returned from his baseball sojourn and instantly rejuvenated a .500 Chicago Bulls team. Wearing No. 45, his older brother Larry's prep number, Jordan pushed the Bulls past Charlotte and into the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Orlando Magic.
Game 1 was a seesaw. With 18 seconds left, the Bulls were clinging to a one-point lead and the ball was in the hands of the world's best basketball player.
Then, it happened: Anderson, a Chicago native, poked the ball loose from Jordan. Horace Grant, a former Bull, finished with a fastbreak go-ahead dunk, igniting the O-rena and paving the way for a Magic win.
"No. 45 doesn't explode like No. 23 used to," Anderson told reporters after the game. "No. 45 is not No. 23. I couldn't have done that to No. 23."
With Jordan going radio silent -- the 32-year-old "flipped on his headphones and cranked up the volume of his portable compact disk player" to avoid reporters, Mike Wise wrote at the time -- talk swirled about whether Jordan had lost his edge.
In Game 2, his 23rd game back from baseball, Jordan caught the basketball world off-guard by reverting back to his old No. 23, effectively unretiring the jersey from the United Center rafters.
He played like the old Michael, too, scoring 38 points in a vintage Bulls win.
"We were shocked," then-Bulls guard and current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said at the time. "The whole bench was shocked. Nobody knew."
The league, however, was not thrilled by the last-minute wardrobe change. The Bulls were fined $25,000 for not reporting the jersey change, plus another $5,000 for Jordan not wearing the right shoes.
"We can’t have a situation where a player can decide every night what number he wants to wear,” NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said in a press release.
Those fines continued to stack up throughout the series as Jordan stuck with No. 23. No one in Chicago seemed to mind.
"Michael said he was hitting .202 with No. 45 on his back in baseball," then-Bulls head coach and current Knicks president Phil Jackson said. "And I said, 'You're shooting about the same percentage, too. It's about time you get back to 23.'"
"If he wants to change his number again and score another 38 or whatever it was, he can wear my number if he wants," Kerr joked. "No, I guess that won't do the trick. He might score four."
The Magic eventually won the series in six games before getting swept by the Rockets in the NBA Finals. Jordan and the Bulls, of course, would win three more championships. But for a strange, heady week in 1995, all that mattered was a steal and a jersey swap.