Hakeem Olajuwon DISMISSED probability of 90s Bulls winning 8 NBA titles if Michael Jordan didn’t retire
Hakeem Olajuwon shuts down debates on Houston Rockets' championship runs and Michael Jordan's retirement in 1994-95
Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan
Former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon has responded to the ongoing debate on whether his team’s back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995 would have been possible if Michael Jordan never retired from the NBA to play baseball.
In an interview with SportsTalk 790, Olajuwon pointed out that the Rockets had their own challenges to overcome during those championship runs.“In 1995, Jordan was back. The great Orlando team beat them in Game 6. It seems like everybody forgot the big steal against Michael Jordan… by Nick Anderson. It cost Chicago the series,” Olajuwon said. “You don’t make excuses for a champion, to discredit anything. We didn’t play Chicago in the Finals, but that doesn’t discredit our accomplishments as a champion. That was the only six-seed in NBA history to have ever won!”
According to Olajuwon, the Rockets faced a challenging path to reach the 1995 Finals as the 6th seed in the West. They defeated the 3rd seed Utah Jazz in Round 1, followed by the 2nd seed Phoenix Suns in Round 2, and ultimately the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. In the Finals, they swept the East’s top seed, the Orlando Magic, to secure their second consecutive championship.
Michael Jordan’s performance in 1995 playoffs
The debate over whether Michael Jordan’s brief retirement to play baseball cost the Bulls a chance at winning eight consecutive championships continues among fans and experts. Some speculate that Jordan’s performance in the 1995 playoffs was affected by his break, contributing to the Bulls’ loss to the Orlando Magic.
A closer look at Jordan’s postseason statistics from that season indicates that he really played extraordinarily well, with higher averages than in the 1996 postseason when the Bulls won their fourth championship. In 1995, Jordan shot 48.4% from the field while averaging 31.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.3 steals a game.
During the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Michael Jordan carried the Bulls by being the leading scorer in every game, with his highest-scoring game being 40 points in Game 3. However, in Game 1, Jordan was stripped of the ball by Nick Anderson, which resulted in a Magic victory. In Game 6, the Bulls had a lead, but were unable to maintain it as the Magic made a 14-0 run to win the game and ultimately the series.
The debate on whether the Bulls could have won eight consecutive championships with Jordan never retiring will likely continue for years to come. However, it’s clear that both the Rockets and Magic presented formidable opponents to the Bulls during those years, and both teams deserve credit for their own championship runs.
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