Did Horace Grant diminish the Houston Rockets’ two championships?

Horace Grant
Horace Grant /

In an effort to highlight Michael Jordan’s accomplishments, Horace Grant may have downplayed the two championships the Houston Rockets won in a 2011 interview.

Horace Grant was a vital part of the Chicago Bulls’ first three-peat, starting in every playoff game he played for them over the course of those three seasons. In those playoffs, he averaged an efficient 11.7 points and 8.4 rebounds. Grant ended up joining the Orlando Magic for the 1994-95 season that eventually met up with the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

With his name in the spotlight after “The Last Dance” revealed some team accusations against him, I took it upon myself to look at other things the 17-year veteran might have been outspoken about over the years when something caught my eye.

In 2011, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen joined “Mike & Mike in the Morning” to discuss how he thinks LeBron James may have surpassed Michael Jordan as the greatest player to ever play the game.

While that’s a whole topic of discussion on its own, Horace Grant also chimed in on Pippen’s opinion, according to this ESPN column from May 2011. In his comments, he may have inadvertently slighted the Rockets’ titles in Jordan’s two-year absence.

“I’m kind of at a loss for words because Michael Jordan … when you win numerous MVPs and you’ve taken the team to six championships — and probably could have been eight if he didn’t retire those two years — and MVPs in the playoffs … and he made us better.”

Let me start by saying this: it’s clear what Grant’s intentions were here. He was obviously defending the case of Michael Jordan, who he played alongside and has likely considered the best player ever since.

What I have to question, though, is the use of the word ‘probably’ in his statement. Winning eight championships in a row in any sport is nearly impossible in its own right, Boston Celtics aside.

Even a superhuman like Jordan can’t be ruled out of winning four or five in a row, but making it sound more likely that the Bulls would have continued their dominance downplays just what Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets accomplished in the mid-90s.

Assuming the Bulls would have made it to the NBA Finals in those seasons, they didn’t exactly have anyone to stop Hakeem, as we’ve discussed recently.

Olajuwon's Rockets faced Jordan and the Bulls 21 times during their careers.

The Rockets went 12-9 during those games and Olajuwon averaged 23.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 1.9 steals, and had a 51.3 FG%.

— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) April 20, 2020

Of course, the Rockets, and every other team ever, didn’t have anyone that could stop Michael Jordan either. But there’s a reason it’s nearly impossible to win more than three titles in a row in the NBA.

When the 1993-94 season came around, it’s simple: Hakeem’s hunger for glory caught up with his talent, and nothing at all was going to stop him. He was on a mission from the start, and it’s tough to assume a Michael Jordan in his fourth straight season playing more games than everyone else would have propelled the Bulls past him.

Despite it being alleged that he had some problems with saying too much about teammate relationships in the 1990s, in the end, I don’t see Grant meaning any harm toward the Rockets when he was quoted in this ESPN post.

Next. Grant thinks ’95 Finals could have gone another way

Still, we have to remember that Grant was swept in the NBA Finals by Hakeem and company, so anything is possible.