Flashing back to a bright time in the past for the Houston Rockets, we travel to the year 1995, specifically a Western Conference Finals matchup between vaunted NBA legends David Robinson and Houston’s own Hakeem Olajuwon. Both were ranked in the top-50 of all-time at the 50th anniversary of the NBA.
To sum it up: Hakeem dominated one of the best ever. Robinson won the league MVP that season, and Olajuwon was secretly brooding over the matter, only to prime himself for one of the greatest performances by a center in NBA history.
Robinson was a great defender, and one of the few capable of matching up with “The Dream.” But he didn’t, he couldn’t, and Olajuwon used his impressive arsenal of moves to carve The Admiral and the Spurs into the ground. There wasn’t a center in the league capable of countering Hakeem’s ball fakes, his footwork, his passing, and his defense.
Even Robinson couldn’t.
In the regular season that year, Hakeem averaged 33 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. That is by all accounts an MVP season. He led the league in scoring, and with Michael Jordan off swinging a baseball bat, the stage was set for the Rockets to win one of the two back-to-back titles that came during Jordan’s break from basketball.
In the six games against Robinson and the Spurs, Hakeem posted 27, 41, 43, 20, 42 and 39 points. That’s good for a 35 point average against another all-time great, cementing Olajuwon’s status as an all-time great, even the greatest according to many that use the proverbial “eye test.” Robinson made eight NBA All defensive teams and ranks No. 4 in all-time career blocks.
But it wasn’t enough to slow Hakeem or the Rockets. It will be remembered as one of the brightest moments in Space City, and it’s worth revisiting any time we get down on the Rockets prospects. It isn’t often that it all just comes together that perfectly.