1994 NBA Finals Rockets x Knicks Basketball Shorts
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.
This matchup was Hakeem Olajuwon‘s second NBA Finals appearance, his other being in 1986, where Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets four games to two. The series was Patrick Ewing‘s first NBA Finals appearance. The Rockets came in with strong determination to win not only the franchise’s first NBA championship, but the city’s first championship in a league that still existed, while the Knicks were looking to add a third NBA championship trophy, as the Knicks’ last trophy came from the 1973 NBA Finals. The Knicks also hoped to impress their new owners Viacom, who had just bought Paramount Communications (formerly Gulf+Western), their longtime owners (after the series however, Viacom sold the Knicks and the rest of the Madison Square Garden properties).
The series was hailed as a meeting of the two great centers who had previously played for a championship in college. In 1984 while Olajuwon was with the University of Houston and Ewing was with Georgetown University, Georgetown had beaten Houston 84–75 in the 1984 NCAA Championship game. In this series, however, Olajuwon outperformed Ewing, outscoring him in every game of the series and posting numbers of 26.9 ppg on 50.0% shooting compared to Ewing’s 18.9 ppg on 36.3% shooting. However, Ewing set an NBA finals record in the series with a total of 30 blocks, and he tied the single-game record of 8 blocks in Game 5. Tim Duncan would later set the record for most blocks in a Finals series (2003) with 32 blocks in six games while Dwight Howard would set the record for most blocked shots in a Finals game with 9 blocked shots in Game 4 of the 2009 Finals while with the Orlando Magic.
During the series, the Houston Rockets played seven low-scoring, defensive games against the New York Knicks. After splitting the first two games in Houston, the Knicks won two out of three games at Madison Square Garden, which also hosted the Rangers first Stanley Cup celebration in 54 years during the series.
In Game 6, however, Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon blocked a last-second championship-winning shot attempt by John Starks, giving the Rockets an 86–84 victory and forcing a Game 7, which made Knicks Coach Pat Riley the first (and to this date, the only) coach in a Game 7 NBA Finals on two teams, having been with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1984 and 1988. In addition, the Knicks set a record for most playoff games played in one season, with 25. The Detroit Pistons tied this record in 2005. The Boston Celtics, coached by Doc Rivers, would surpass it during their championship season of 2008 when they played 26.
The Rockets beat the Knicks in Game 7, 90–84, enabling the city of Houston to not only celebrate its first NBA and fifth professional sports championship (first in an existing league), but also deny New York from having both NBA and NHL championships in the same year (Chicago had suffered this fate two years earlier in 1992, with the Bulls winning their second NBA championship and the Blackhawks losing in the Stanley Cup Finals). For his efforts Olajuwon was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. For the Knicks, Riley had the unfortunate distinction of having become the first (and to this date, the only) coach to lose a Game 7 NBA Finals on two teams, having lost to the Celtics in 1984. It also denied him the distinction of being the first coach to win a Game 7 NBA Finals with two teams, having defeated the Detroit Pistons in 1988.
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