Season Review: 1994-95

Take a look back at the 1994-95 NBA season, in which the defending-champion Rockets won their second straight NBA title.


The Houston Rockets entered the 1994-95 season looking to join the ranks of the last four champions, who were all able to repeat as back-to-back NBA champions. Yet by midseason, Houston hardly looked like a serious contender and was in dire need of a spark to its transition game.

The Rockets fixed what ailed them in Februrary at the trade deadline, shipping rugged power forward Otis Thorpe to Portland in a deal that put acrobatic guard Clyde Drexler back in Houston. It didn’t take long for Drexler and Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon — teammates during their college days at the University of Houston — to pick up where they left off so many years ago.

More big news came five months into the season. After sitting out 17 months and sending a severe case of depression through the sports world, Michael Jordan ditched his hobby, baseball, for his true love, basketball.

In March of 1995, he returned to the Bulls, this time wearing jersey No. 45 (he would later switch back to No. 23 in the playoffs).

Take a look back at the storylines and moments from MJ's return in 1995.

The 1994-95 season also saw two major records fall. Atlanta coach Lenny Wilkens passed the legendary Red Auerbach on the list of all-time coaching victories, while Utah’s John Stockton replaced Magic Johnson as the NBA’s all-time assists leader.

When Wilkens won victory number 939 in early January against the Washington Bullets to pass Auerbach, whose record had stood since the close of the 1965-66 season and Auerbach’s retirement as coach of the Boston Celtics, he lit up a cigar in tribute to the man who had been the NBA’s winningest coach for over three seasons.

“Red is a legend, so this is a huge achievement,” Wilkens said. “When I started coaching, all of us looked at Red and thought his record was something that would stand forever.”

Once the playoffs began, Jordan was shaking some rust off his game. Though the Bulls easily handled the Hornets in the first round, he struggled in that series. He didn’t fare much better in the East semis against the Magic as Orlando eliminated Chicago 4-2. From there, the Magic would topple the Pacers in Game 7 to reach their first Finals.

Watch how the Rockets earned the title of dynasty with their back-to-back championship in 1995.

Out West, the Drexler-Olajuwon combo was working wonders at the right time for Houston. Though they trailed the Jazz 2-1 in the first round, the Rockets rallied to claim that series in Game 5. In the West semis, they fell behind again — this time it was a 3-1 hole to the Suns. But once again, the Rockets pushed the series to the brink and advanced in Game 7. In the West finals, Olajuwon’s trademark footwork and quickness was too much for MVP David Robinson and the Spurs as the Rockets reached their second straight Finals.

The 1995 NBA Finals came down to youth versus experience as Olajuwon squared off against the Magic’s budding star center, Shaquille O’Neal. Olajuwon claimed a second straight Finals MVP and the Rockets forever etched their name in playoff lore. They became the first team to win four series without homecourt advantage, the first No. 6 seed to win the title and the first team to defeat four 50-win teams en route to a title. It was also only the sixth Finals sweep in history.


Eastern Conference first round

Orlando defeated Boston (3-1)

Indiana defeated Atlanta (3-0)

New York defeated Cleveland (3-1)

Chicago defeated Charlotte (3-1)

Western Conference first round

San Antonio defeated Denver (3-0)

Phoenix defeated Portland (3-0)

Houston defeated Utah (3-2)

Los Angeles Lakers defeated Seattle (3-1)

Eastern Conference semifinals

Indiana defeated New York (4-3)

Orlando defeated Chicago (4-2)

Western Conference semifinals

San Antonio defeated Los Angeles Lakers (4-2)

Houston defeated Phoenix (4-3)

Eastern Conference finals

Orlando defeated Indiana (4-3)

Western Conference finals

Houston defeated San Antonio (4-2)

NBA Finals

Houston defeated Orlando (4-0)


Points — Shaquille O’Neal, Orlando Magic (29.3)

Assists — John Stockton, Utah Jazz (12.3)

Rebounds — Dennis Rodman, San Antonio Spurs (16.8)

Steals — Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls (2.9)

Blocks — Dikembe Mutombo, Denver Nuggets (3.9)

FG % — Chris Gatling, Golden State Warriors (63.3)

FT % — Spud Webb, Sacramento Kings (93.4)

3PT % — Steve Kerr, Chicago Bulls (52.3)


Most Valuable Player — David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

Rookie of the Year — Grant Hill, Detroit Pistons & Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks

Defensive Player of the Year — Dikembe Mutombo, Denver Nuggets

Most Improved Player — Dana Barros, Philadelphia 76ers

Sixth Man of the Year — Anthony Mason, New York Knicks

Coach of the Year — Del Harris, Los Angeles Lakers

All-Star Game MVP — Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls

NBA Finals MVP — Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets