19 years ago today, The Houston Rockets lost their first game of the year.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: The 15-0 start to the season tied the all-time record set by the Washington Capitols in 1948-49.
Just as it did for the 1995 Chicago Bulls, a hot start to the season ultimately culminated in a championship for the Houston Rockets. With a chance to set the NBA record for longest unbeaten streak to start a season, the Rockets couldn't overcome a game Atlanta Hawks team during an entertaining 133-111 Hawks victory in Atlanta. After the loss, the Rockets would win the next seven games in a row, running their record to an impressive 22-1.
On pace for a video game like four loss season, the Rockets came back to earth from then on and finished a subdued 36-23 over the final 59 games. The up and down nature of the season continued in the playoffs as well. After easily dispatching the Portland Trailblazers 3-1 in round one, The Rockets nearly had an early postseason exit when they lost the first two games of the conference semifinals to Phoenix at The Summit in Houston. The Rockets won three in a row, lost game six in Phoenix and then returned to Houston for the decisive game seven victory.
In the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets over powered the Utah Jazz 4-1, setting up a Finals matchup with the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks.
The Rockets versus Knicks Finals was one of the most physical in NBA history, even to this day, thanks to each team's emphasis on tough defense and a grind it out approach on offense, working the ball through Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, respectively. For the first time since the introduction of the shot clock in 1954-55, neither team reached 100 points in any game of a seven-game playoff series. Not since 1975 had there been a Finals series in which the margin of victory in every game was less than 10 points, until this one.
The Rockets won the series 4-3, securing their first title in NBA history. Hakeem Olajuwon's "Dream" season was one for the ages. Olajuwon was named league MVP, NBA Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA First Team.
Though a win in Atlanta on 12/3/1993 would have set a new record, it's safe to say the Rockets were satisfied with how the season ended.
"I knew he recorded everything we worked on," Olajuwon said. "I know he's practiced it. I can see that. But the comfort level, when you get into the competition, you start playing to your strengths, which is more of (an) outside (game). I see him post up. But I still see a lot of opportunities there. He's not capitalizing as much as he should. He needs more of a refresher course where he can become more comfortable. I see him (improving his post game), but he needs more time."
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The best always get better. That's why they are the best.
After all, Michael Jordan developed an amazing post game; Magic Johnson added his ‘baby hook’ and three-point shot; Kobe Bryant has extended his range over the years.
So, there’s no doubt LeBron James, who will surely win his third MVP award this spring, can get better. According to his tutor Olajuwon, it starts in the post, where the 6-8 man-child has only scratched the surface.
James’ can also take his one-on-one defense, outside range, and conditioning to another level. When he does fans will be watching an all-time great.
Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.
This comes up every playoff time involving great active players such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James right now in 2011. Whenever one of them goes deep in a playoff run putting up good statistics and highlight plays, the media and former players gas these guys up. The method is definitely a “prisoner of the moment” type thing. Why do you guys do it? There is a lot of front running and some trolling. All good though. I’m ready. We’re ready. My body is ready. Let’s do this. Remember that the standards are extremely high and strict. These legends have great accomplishments. However, further scrutiny causes them not be the ultimate GOAT.Read More