|MVP|| Hakeem Olajuwon |
|Hall of Famers||Rockets:|
Clyde Drexler (2004)
Hakeem Olajuwon (2008)
Shaquille O'Neal (2016)
Rudy Tomjanovich (2020)
Dick Bavetta (2015)
|Eastern Finals||Magic defeated Pacers, 4–3|
|Western Finals||Rockets defeated Spurs, 4–2|
The 1995 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1994–95 National Basketball Association (NBA) season. The series pitted the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic against the defending NBA champion and Western Conference champion Houston Rockets. The pre-series hype and buildup of the Finals was centered on the meeting of the two centers opposing each other: Shaquille O'Neal of the Magic and Hakeem Olajuwon of the Rockets. Going into the series the matchup was compared to the Bill Russell – Wilt Chamberlain matchup of the 1960s.
The Rockets became the first team in NBA history to beat four 50-win teams in a single postseason en route to the championship. The Rockets would win a playoff-record nine road games in the 1995 playoffs. It was the second NBA Finals sweep in the 2–3–2 Finals format (after the Detroit Pistons did so against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1989). The Rockets also became the first repeat NBA Champion in history to keep the title with a sweep. In addition, the Rockets became the first team in NBA history to win the title without having home-court advantage in any of the four playoff rounds since the playoffs was expanded to a 16 team format in 1984. Coincidentally, this feat would also be achieved by the New Jersey Devils that same year, when they won the Stanley Cup over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Orlando Magic, making their first NBA Finals appearance, began the series at home, hosting the defending champion Houston Rockets. With the Magic up 110–107 late in Game 1, Nick Anderson missed four consecutive free throws in the closing seconds of the game, and Kenny Smith hit a three-pointer, tying the game and sending it to overtime as well as setting a new record at the time, with the most three-pointers in an NBA Finals game with seven. The more experienced Rockets went on to win in overtime and eventually swept the Magic, winning their second consecutive NBA Championship. In achieving this, they earned the distinction of being the only team to win both championships during Michael Jordan's first retirement (although Jordan did return in the closing months of the 1994–95 season), in addition to being the only team other than the Chicago Bulls to win multiple championships in the 1990s.
The season-ending documentary Double Clutch by Hal Douglas, was released by NBA Entertainment to coincide with the Rockets' championship season.
The Rockets entered the 1994–95 season as defending champions. They have won the first eight games of the season,the first defending champions to have won their first eight games of their season since the 1987-88 Lakers. However, they struggled to maintain last season's form due to injuries and off-court-distractions. On February 14, the Rockets acquired Clyde Drexler from the Portland Trail Blazers, but the trade of a hometown hero (Drexler was a teammate of Olajuwon at the University of Houston) did not improve matters, and the Rockets settled for the sixth seed with a 47–35 record.
However, Houston once again lived up to its Clutch City reputation come playoff time. En route to the Finals, the Rockets defeated three teams with 55 or more victories. They began by ousting the Utah Jazz in five games (the Rockets trailed 2–1 after three games), then repeating last season's comeback effort over the Phoenix Suns (wherein the Rockets trailed 3–1 after four games). In Game 7 of that series, Phoenix led Houston 51-42 after the first half before Houston mounted a comeback to get the series win, 115-114.After dispatching the Suns, the Rockets outclassed the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in six games of the conference finals. They also became the first team in NBA History to have lost all their home games of the series but won all road games of that certain series thus advancing to the next round.
The Magic were only in their sixth season of existence, but they were a team on the rise. Led by All-Stars Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, new acquisition Horace Grant, and franchise cornerstones Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, the Magic rolled through the Eastern Conference, winding up with a then-franchise best 57–25 mark.
Orlando's road to the Finals began with a convincing 3–1 series win over the Boston Celtics. They followed it up with a six-game ouster of Michael Jordan (returning from an 18-month retirement) and the Chicago Bulls in the second round, and in the conference finals, they vanquished the Indiana Pacers in a tough seven-game series.
|Houston Rockets (Western Conference champion)||Orlando Magic (Eastern Conference champion)|
6th seed in the West, 11th best league record
|Defeated the (3) Utah Jazz, 3–2||First Round||Defeated the (8) Boston Celtics, 3–1|
|Defeated the (2) Phoenix Suns, 4–3||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the (5) Chicago Bulls, 4–2|
|Defeated the (1) San Antonio Spurs, 4–2||Conference Finals||Defeated the (2) Indiana Pacers, 4–3|
The Orlando Magic won both games in the regular season series:
|1994–95 Houston Rockets roster|
|1994–95 Orlando Magic roster|
|Game||Date||Away Team||Result||Home Team|
|Game 1||Wednesday, June 7||Houston Rockets||120–118 (OT) (1–0)||Orlando Magic|
|Game 2||Friday, June 9||Houston Rockets||117–106 (2–0)||Orlando Magic|
|Game 3||Sunday, June 11||Orlando Magic||103–106 (0–3)||Houston Rockets|
|Game 4||Wednesday, June 14||Orlando Magic||101–113 (0–4)||Houston Rockets|
This was one of only two NBA Finals in which the team who did not have home court advantage swept the series, (the other being the 1975 Finals, in which the Golden State Warriors swept the Washington Bullets).
|Houston Rockets 120, Orlando Magic 118 (OT)|
|Scoring by quarter: 19–30, 31–31, 37–19, 23–30, Overtime:10–8|
| Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 31|
Rebs: Clyde Drexler 11
Asts: Kenny Smith 9
|Pts: Hardaway, O'Neal 26 each|
Rebs: Grant, O'Neal 16 each
Asts: Shaquille O'Neal 9
|Houston leads the series, 1–0|
Kenny Smith hit a then-Finals record seven 3-pointers, the last tying the game up at 110 with 1.6 seconds left following Nick Anderson's four straight missed foul shots. In overtime, Hakeem Olajuwon tips in a missed finger roll by Clyde Drexler with three-tenths of a second left to win the game. Hakeem Olajuwon finished the game with 31 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 blocks while Kenny Smith recorded 23 points and 9 assists.
|Houston Rockets 117, Orlando Magic 106|
|Scoring by quarter:28–19, 35–22, 27–30, 27–35|
| Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 34|
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 11
Asts: Clyde Drexler 5
|Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 33|
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 12
Asts: Penny Hardaway 8
|Houston leads the series, 2–0|
Hakeem Olajuwon records a double-double with 34 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a 117-106 victory to take a 2-0 series lead. The Magic, on the other hand, becomes the 2nd team in NBA Finals history to lose the first two of their four home games.
|Orlando Magic 103, Houston Rockets 106|
|Scoring by quarter:30–28, 23–26, 22–21, 28–31|
| Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 28|
Rebs: Anderson, Grant, O'Neal 10 each
Asts: Penny Hardaway 14
|Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 31|
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 14
Asts: Drexler, Olajuwon 7 each
|Houston leads the series, 3–0|
Robert Horry hit a three-pointer to give Houston a 104-100 lead with 14.1 seconds left. Orlando's Anfernee Hardaway then missed a three-pointer, and the rebound deflected off Dennis Scott and out of bounds with 6.8 seconds left, turning the ball over to Houston. Clyde Drexler was immediately fouled. He missed his first free throw and made the second for a 105-100 Rockets lead with 5.9 seconds left. Nick Anderson hit a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to bring the Magic within two points, and then Sam Cassell was immediately fouled. He needed to make both free throws to likely seal it, but missed the first. He made the second to give the Rockets a three-point lead with 2.2 seconds left. After a timeout to advance the ball to midcourt, the Magic had one last chance to tie the game and force overtime, but Hardaway missed a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. The Rockets held on for a 106-103 win in Game 3 to take a 3-0 series lead and were one win away from their second consecutive NBA title.
|Orlando Magic 101, Houston Rockets 113|
|Scoring by quarter: 21–23, 30–24, 25–30, 25–36|
| Pts: Hardaway, O'Neal 25 each|
Rebs: Grant, O'Neal 12 each
Asts: Penny Hardaway 5
|Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 35|
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 15
Asts: Clyde Drexler 8
|Houston wins the series, 4–0|
At the end of the first half, the Magic had a 4-point advantage of the home team, Rockets. However, the Rockets have another notable comeback as they outscored the Magic 66-50 in the second half, thus winning their second consecutive NBA championship. Olajuwon outscores O'Neal by 10 points and caps off the sweep by hitting a memorable yet uncharacteristic 3-pointer in front of O'Neal.
Although both centers played well, Olajuwon is generally considered to have outplayed O'Neal. Olajuwon outscored O'Neal in every game of the series and became one of the few players in NBA history to score at least 30 points in every game of an NBA Finals series:
|1995 NBA Finals||Gm 1||Gm 2||Gm 3||Gm 4||Totals|
|Hakeem Olajuwon||31||34||31||35||32.8 ppg|
|Shaquille O'Neal||26||33||28||25||28.0 ppg|
By winning his second straight NBA Finals MVP award, Hakeem Olajuwon became the sixth player to win the award on multiple occasions, joining Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. Jordan and Olajuwon at the time were the only players to win the award consecutively.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
In the United States, the NBA Finals was broadcast on NBC television, with Marv Albert, Matt Guokas and Bill Walton calling the action. Ahmad Rashād, Hannah Storm, and Jim Gray served as sideline reporters, and studio coverage was handled by Bob Costas, Julius Erving and Peter Vecsey.
National radio coverage was provided by the NBA Radio Network, with Joe McConnell and Wes Unseld on the call. After the season, NBA Radio was dissolved and subsequent national radio broadcasts of the NBA Finals would be handled by ESPN Radio.
The Rockets' title reign ended in 1996, when they were swept by the Seattle SuperSonics in the second round. The Sonics were also the last team to beat the Rockets in the playoffs prior to their championship run, having eliminated them in the second round in 1993. That year, the Rockets won 48 games and achieved the fourth seed. The following offseason, they acquired former NBA MVP Charles Barkley in a trade, but age and injuries would take its toll and the closest the Rockets would achieve after their two-year championship reign was a six-game loss to the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Western Conference Finals.
The Magic won a franchise-record 60 games in the 1995–96 NBA season, but were swept by the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals. During the offseason, Shaquille O'Neal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he went on to win three championships; he later added a fourth title to his resume with the Miami Heat in 2006. The Magic would not return to the Finals until 2009, which they lost to the Lakers in five games.
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston. The Rockets compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member team of the league's Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its home games at the Toyota Center, located in Downtown Houston. Throughout its history, Houston has won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. It was established in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets, an expansion team originally based in San Diego. In 1971, the Rockets relocated to Houston.
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, nicknamed "the Dream", is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Houston Rockets and eventually the Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
The NBA Finals is the annual championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Eastern and Western conference champions play a best-of-seven game series to determine the league champion. The team that wins the series is awarded the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, which replaced the Walter A. Brown Trophy in 1983.
Robert Keith Horry is an American former professional basketball player and current sports commentator. He played 16 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), winning seven championships, the most of any player not to have played on the 1960s Boston Celtics. He is one of only four players to have won NBA championships with three teams; he won two with the Houston Rockets, three with the Los Angeles Lakers and two with the San Antonio Spurs with no defeats in NBA Finals. He earned the nickname "Big Shot Rob", because of his clutch shooting in important games; he is widely considered to be one of the greatest clutch performers and winners in NBA history. Horry now works as a commentator on Spectrum SportsNet for the Lakers.
The 1994 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1993–94 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. The Western Conference champion Houston Rockets played the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks for the championship, with the Rockets holding home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. The Rockets defeated the Knicks 4 games to 3 to win the team's first NBA championship.
The 1993 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1992–93 NBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. It featured the two-time defending NBA champion and Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, and the Western Conference playoff champion Phoenix Suns, winners of 62 games and led by regular season MVP Charles Barkley. The Bulls became the first team since the Boston Celtics of the 1960s to win three consecutive championship titles, clinching the "three-peat" with John Paxson's game-winning 3-pointer that gave them a 99–98 victory in Game 6.
The 1995 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1994–95 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets defeating the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic 4 games to 0 in the NBA Finals. Hakeem Olajuwon was named NBA Finals MVP for the second straight time.
The 1994 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1993-94 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets defeating the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. Hakeem Olajuwon was named NBA Finals MVP.
The Jazz–Rockets rivalry is a National Basketball Association (NBA) rivalry between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets. The rivalry began in the 1990s when the Rockets, led by dominant center Hakeem Olajuwon and college teammate Clyde Drexler, and the Jazz, led by the pick-and-roll duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton, were playoff powers in the Midwest Division. The teams faced each other four times in the NBA playoffs during the decade. In all four instances, the winner was the eventual Western Conference champion and played in the NBA Finals. In 2007, the rivalry was restored as the two teams met again in the playoffs and a showdown of two of the best 1–2 combos of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming of the Rockets and Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer of the Jazz. In 2018, the rivalry was once again restored as the two teams met in the Western Conference Semifinals, where the Rockets won the series 4–1. In 2019, the two teams met once again in the playoffs, but in the First Round, with the Rockets once again winning the series 4–1.
Clutch City is a nickname given to the city of Houston, Texas after the city's National Basketball Association (NBA) club, the Houston Rockets.
The 2000–01 NBA season was the Lakers' 53rd season in the National Basketball Association, and 41st in the city of Los Angeles. The Lakers entered the season as the defending NBA champions, having defeated the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals in six games, winning their twelfth NBA championship. During the offseason, the Lakers acquired Horace Grant from the Seattle SuperSonics. Grant won three championships with the Chicago Bulls in the early 1990s. The team also signed free agent Isaiah Rider, who was released by the Atlanta Hawks the previous season due to off the court troubles. Derek Fisher played just 20 games due to a stress fracture in his right foot, which forced him to miss the first 62 games of the regular season. The Lakers won their final eight games finishing the regular season with a 56–26 record, and won the Pacific Division over the rival Sacramento Kings by one game. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal were both selected for the 2001 NBA All-Star Game, but O'Neal did not play due to an injury. The Lakers clinched the #2 seed in the playoffs. O’Neal averaged 28.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, and was named to the All-NBA First Team, while Bryant averaged 28.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team. Both players were also selected to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
The 1994–95 NBA season was the Rockets' 28th season in the National Basketball Association, and 24th season in Houston. After winning their first championship, the Rockets went on to win their first nine games of the season. However, with increased competition in the West, management felt a change was needed to win another title. On February 14, the Rockets traded Otis Thorpe to the Portland Trail Blazers for All-Star guard Clyde Drexler, a former teammate of Hakeem Olajuwon at the University of Houston, and Tracy Murray. The team also signed free agent Chucky Brown midway through the season. However, after the trade, the Rockets struggled in the second half of the season posting a record of 17–18 on their way to finishing third in the Midwest Division with a 47–35 record. Olajuwon averaged 27.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.4 blocks per game, and was named to the All-NBA Third Team, and selected for the 1995 NBA All-Star Game. Drexler averaged 21.4 points per game in 35 games with the Rockets, and was also named to the All-NBA Third Team.
The 1994–95 NBA season was the Magic's 6th season in the National Basketball Association. After building through the draft in previous years, the Magic made themselves even stronger by signing free agents Horace Grant and Brian Shaw during the offseason. Grant gave the Magic one of the most dominant starting lineups in the NBA, as he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Shaquille O'Neal continued to dominate the NBA with 29.3 points per game, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team, while second-year star Anfernee Hardaway averaged 21.7 points, 7.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game, while being named to the All-NBA First Team. The Magic got off to a fast start winning 22 of their first 27 games, then later holding a 37–10 record at the All-Star break. Despite losing seven of their final eleven games in April, the Magic easily won the Atlantic Division with a 57–25 record. They also finished with a 39–2 home record, tied for second best in NBA history. O'Neal and Hardaway were both selected to play in the 1995 NBA All-Star Game, with head coach Brian Hill coaching the Eastern Conference.
The 1995–96 NBA season was the Rockets' 29th season in the National Basketball Association, and 25th season in Houston. In the offseason, the Rockets signed free agents Mark Bryant and Eldridge Recasner. After two straight NBA championships, the team got a new logo which was actually unveiled aboard the Space Shuttle, and got new pinstripe uniforms adding dark navy blue to their color scheme. The Rockets got off to a fast start winning ten of their first eleven games. However, injuries would be an issue all year as Clyde Drexler, Sam Cassell and Mario Elie were all out for long stretches. Midway through the season, the team signed free agent Sam Mack, who previously played in the Continental Basketball Association. Despite the injuries and a 7-game losing streak in March, the Rockets finished third in the Midwest Division with a 48–34 record, with Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon both being selected for the 1996 NBA All-Star Game. Olajuwon averaged 26.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game as he was named to the All-NBA Second Team, and NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Drexler finished second on the team in scoring with 19.3 points per game, while Cassell played a sixth man role averaging 14.5 points per game off the bench.
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Rockets' 30th season in the National Basketball Association, and 26th season in Houston. During the offseason, the Rockets acquired All-Star forward Charles Barkley from the Phoenix Suns, and signed free agents Kevin Willis, Brent Price, undrafted rookie guard Matt Maloney and re-signed three-point specialist Matt Bullard, who was a member of the championship team from the 1994 NBA Finals. The Rockets blasted off to a 21–2 start, but later on struggled posting a six-game losing streak between January and February. Barkley averaged 19.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, but appeared in just 53 games due to ankle and hip injuries. At midseason, the Rockets signed free agents Eddie Johnson and Sedale Threatt as they won 14 of their final 17 games, finishing second in the Midwest Division with a 57–25 record. Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and head coach Rudy Tomjanovich all represented the Western Conference during the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. However, Barkley and Drexler did not play due to injuries. Olajuwon averaged 23.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, and was named to the All-NBA First Team, and NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Drexler finished third on the team in scoring with 18.0 points per game, while Maloney led them with 154 three-point field goals, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
The 2009 NBA Finals was the championship series of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) 2008–09 season. The best-of-seven playoff was contested between the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers, and the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic. The Lakers were favored to win the championship over the Magic. The Lakers defeated the Magic, four games to one, to win the franchise's 15th NBA championship. The 63rd edition of the championship series was played between June 4 and June 14 and was broadcast on U.S. television on ABC.
The Rockets–Spurs rivalry is an NBA rivalry between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. It is also known as the I-10 Rivalry since San Antonio and Houston lie on Interstate 10, it is one of the three National Basketball Association rivalries between teams from Texas, the others featuring Houston and San Antonio versus the Dallas Mavericks.
The 1995–96 NBA season was the Magic's seventh season in the National Basketball Association. During the offseason, the Magic signed free agent Jon Koncak. Coming off their trip to the NBA Finals, where they were swept in four games by the Houston Rockets, the Magic won their second straight Atlantic Division title with a 60–22 record, a regular season record which still stands as the best in franchise history. This despite missing Shaquille O'Neal for the first 22 games of the season due to a thumb injury. Anfernee Hardaway stepped up in O'Neal's absence and was awarded Player of the Month for November, as the Magic got off to a 13–2 start. The season saw Dennis Scott take a place in the league history books by scoring 267 three-point field goals, a single season record since broken by Stephen Curry. Scott set a then-record of 11 three-point field goals in a 119–104 home win against the Atlanta Hawks on April 18, 1996. Scott finished third on the team in scoring averaging 17.5 points per game. Hardaway averaged 21.7 points, 7.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game, and was named to the All-NBA First Team. O'Neal averaged 26.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, while being named to the All-NBA Third Team. Both Hardaway and O'Neal were selected for the 1996 NBA All-Star Game, while power forward Horace Grant made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. This was also the only season of O'Neal's NBA career where he hit his only three-pointer in a 121–91 home win against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 16, 1996.