The ’94 Houston Rockets did something for the first time since ’77

Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT}
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT} /

The Houston Rockets made history in more ways than one when they captured their first title on the back of Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994.

There’s always something special about your team’s first championship run. The 1993-94 Houston Rockets not only made franchise history with their first title, but they also did something only done once from 1978-2003.

The NBA has always been a superstar’s league. With the extremely rare exception, a championship team needs at least a pair of them to have what it takes to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season.

From 1978-1993, every championship team was led by at least two players who eventually became Hall of Famers. Before 1994, the Portland Trail Blazers, led by Bill Walton, were the most recent team to only have one future Hall of Famer on their championship squad.

Since then, the Washington Bullets, Seattle SuperSonics, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls all had at least a double-headed snake on their way to their respective titles.

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Every team that won from 1980-84 had four Hall of Famers on their roster. In the case of the 1985 Lakers and 1986 Celtics, they fielded what could be a starting lineup’s worth of Hall of Famers with five each.

The Houston Rockets broke the multiple Hall of Famers streak in 1994 when they defeated the New York Knicks in seven games to win their first NBA title.

Interestingly, the Knicks also would’ve broken the same streak if they had won that championship, as their only player that season to make the Hall of Fame was Patrick Ewing.

Instead, the Rockets used a balanced roster full of great role players headed by Hakeem Olajuwon to take home the crown. Olajuwon averaged 28.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 4.0 blocks and 1.7 steals in those playoffs, leading the team in all five categories.

The supporting cast of Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry, Otis Thorpe and Kenny Smith all averaged double figures in those playoffs as well, showing that with a good enough base of players around one superstar, anything is possible.

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The streak of more than one Hall of Famer on a title team continued the following season, as Clyde Drexler joined the club for Houston’s second title run. It continued with the Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers all the way until 2004, when the Detroit Pistons won it all with no Hall of Famers at all.