Deciding to leave the Chicago Bulls in 1994 wasn’t easy for Horace Grant. Selected with the No. 10 pick in the 1987 NBA Draft by the Bulls, Grant’s mid-range shot, ability to post up at will, and defensive presence were crucial for their three-peat from 1991 to 1993.
Grant averaged 12.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 33.3 minutes over 546 games in seven seasons with the Bulls. The four-time NBA champion had the best year of his career in 1994, when he was named an NBA All-Star, and averaged 15.1 points, 11 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1 steal in 36.7 minutes over 70 games.
Then, Grant became a free agent and signed with the Orlando Magic. He explained why he made that decision during an AMA session on Reddit.
“It was one of the toughest, most difficult decisions I made in my life. After winning 3 championships, the year MJ retired, we had a pretty good season, winning 55 games and taking the Knicks to a Game 7. It was a pretty darn good year.
I sat down with Scottie and I said ‘listen, I’ve got to look out for myself and my family.’ And he understood. We embraced, we talked a little bit more, and I wished him well and he wished me well. It was tough.
On the other hand, you look at a team with Shaq, Penny Hardaway… that was a great opportunity for me to go and lend my expertise to a young team with great talent,” Grant wrote.
Grant shared his thought process back then and explained why he believed he could help the Magic win it all.
“It was the toughest decision I ever made,” Grant told Mirror Sport. “I discussed the pros and cons of the move with Scottie [Pippen], and I had to make a business decision. I could have gone to almost any NBA team – I visited a whole bunch of teams – but there was something about the upcoming Orlando Magic, with a young Shaq, Penny Hardaway, and Nick Anderson, who was one of the best three-point shooters around.
I thought they just needed an extra ingredient, and my experience of competing in the playoffs and for a championship in Chicago was valuable. In the end, joining some exceptional young and exciting talent was something I couldn’t pass up.”
Grant recognized that if he had known that Michael Jordan was going to return from retirement in 1995 it would have made his decision even more difficult.
“I don’t think I could have given up the chance to play with great talents like Penny [Hardaway] and Shaq. I would have still gone to Orlando – but I would have had second thoughts,” Grant explained.