“They Were Just Too Small”: Ex-Rockets Player Ridicules Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls Would Have Beaten Them in 1995

Published 07/04/2020, 7:30 AM EDT


The 1994-95 NBA season saw Houston Rockets win back-to-back titles. They had won it the year before and with a clean sweep in the finals they claimed consecutive championships. The Rockets got their hands on the trophy as soon as Michael Jordan retired in 1993. But MJ was back on the Bulls team during the Rockets’ second championship quest. But why couldn’t he stop them?

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Many people believe Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever. Keeping this in mind, even the GOAT could not stop the Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon from winning consecutive titles. The Bulls had made winning so normalized through their three-peat that the fans expected them to win everything.

However, when MJ returned in 1995, the Bulls weren’t in good shape. At the end of the regular season, they finished third in the central division and fifth in the eastern conference. The iconic #23 was avoided by Jordan when he returned due to certain reasons. He chose to wear #45, a decision that was quickly overturned by ‘His Airness.’

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After 21 months without competing in the league, it was definitely a challenge for MJ. The team ended up going to the playoffs but it did not last long. The Orlando Magic dominated the Bulls with a 4-2 victory in the conference semi-finals. A talented team comprising Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway advanced to the finals after beating the Bulls and later eliminating the Pacers in the conference finals.

 

If Michael Jordan was in the Finals, could he have stopped the Rockets from winning the championship?

Sporting landmarks like these always tend to raise up a lot of discussions. Several ‘what if’ scenarios appear before our eyes and we can’t help but think about them. Here, the main question is, if Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls made it to the 1995 NBA Finals, who would have emerged champions? The Bulls or the Rockets? Michael Jordan or Hakeem Olajuwon?

Well, a member of the 95’ Rockets team expressed his views on the matter on ESPN’s First Take. Kenny Smith might be popular these days due to his appearance as an analyst on Inside the NBA. But before that, Smith won the championship twice by playing for the Rockets. 

Here is what the 55-year-old had to say on the matter. Though Smith offered due respect to the “greatest player ever,” he disagreed with the idea of the Bulls defeating the Rockets in 1995. 

Kenny Smith explains why the Rockets would have won the title regardless 

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“First of all he was wearing number 45, the year that they lost,” Smith said. “And he was actually in the league. People forget that. But they were just too small. No Horace Grant. He was in Orlando. Dennis Rodman was still in San Antonio. That’s why they lost to Orlando Magic,” he explained. 

“We would’ve done the same thing. The team that they lost to 4-2, we swept,” he reasoned. “It wasn’t Jordan wasn’t the best player. That wasn’t the best team. So if they didn’t keep Horace Grant or they didn’t get a Dennis Rodman with Michael, they would’ve been too small on the inside. I don’t think they would’ve won eight straight,” Smith expressed.

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Do you agree with Kenny Smith or is there a different take from your side? Thoughts and opinions are most welcome!

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Arjun Athreya

1914 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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