Why the Rockets would have beaten Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1994

Michael Jordan (Photo by BRIAN BAHR / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images)
Michael Jordan (Photo by BRIAN BAHR / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Michael Jordan (Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /

While there have been doubters, there wasn’t a team in the league that could’ve stopped the Houston Rockets in 1994, including Michael Jordan’s Bulls.

With Michael Jordans’ highly-anticipated documentary, “The Last Dance”, set to air on ESPN on Sunday at 9 pm ET, several quotes and stories have emerged. While it will mainly focus on the 1997-98 Bulls team, one storyline surrounding Jordan’s time in the league is about if the Houston Rockets would have won either of their championships if he had stuck around.

Quotes from soon-to-be Hall of Famer Rudy Tomjanovich as well as Robert Horry, Vernon Maxwell and Kenny Smith suggest that 1994 would have ended the exact same way as it did, regardless of whether or not Jordan was in the mix.

The Houston Rockets and their fans have heard chatter for over two decades about the legitimacy of their titles. But if you look closer at the matchup, the Rockets were the best team, and no one, not even a Jordan-led Bulls team, would have stopped them.

Let’s take a look at why the 1994 Rockets would still have hoisted the Larry O’ Brien trophy, even if a certain Bulls legend didn’t decide to try his luck at playing baseball that year.

No Answer for The Dream

This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. At no point in 1994, or any other year for that matter, did the Bulls have a player that could hang with Hakeem Olajuwon. The overwhelming pressure that he would have put on the Bulls defense cannot be overstated.

Bill Cartwright, Stacey King and Horace Grant were good post defenders, but let’s face it: they would have had to run double teams constantly at Olajuwon.

In the two games the Rockets squared off against the Bulls in the season before Jordan retired, Olajuwon averaged 23 points, five blocks, 15 rebounds and five assists. Houston won both games by double-digits.

The Rockets, at the time, were one of the best 3-point shooting teams of that era and double-teaming Olajuwon would have given the Rockets open shots all series long against the Bulls. It’s safe to say the biggest advantage in a series against Chicago was Olajuwon against the Bulls’ platoon at the center position.

Next: The Players Weigh in