ESPN’s Max Kellerman finally gave the Houston Rockets credit, as he stated that Hakeem Olajuwon was the best player in the league between the 1993-95 seasons.
You’re likely already aware of the anti-bias that exists between ESPN and the Houston Rockets, because frankly it would be impossible to not notice. The four-letter network only seems to discuss the Rockets whenever there’s a negative slant attached, as they can’t seem to hide their negative slant towards the Rockets.
This is especially the case with ESPN’s morning debate show First Take, as they recently featured the Rockets for the first time in months, albeit to discuss whether or not Russell Westbrook is a top-10 player. It goes without saying but this should be obvious, especially if we’re talking about this season.
One of the main culprits of the show’s hatred against the Rockets is Max Kellerman, who joins Stephen A. Smith as the two panelists on the show. Max rarely ever has anything positive to say about the Rockets, which often gets mistaken for him simply trolling.
Earlier in the season, Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith were discussing whether Rockets’ star James Harden is a top-five offensive player in league history, which is also an easy answer. In spite of that, Kellerman said no while Smith disagreed and stated the obvious.
On Tuesday’s taping of the show, Kellerman was speaking about the state of the NBA after Michael Jordan’s first retirement following the 1992-93 season and offered praise for Houston Rockets great Hakeem Olajuwon.
“Without Jordan in the league, who’s the alpha? Who’s the champion? Who’s the best player? It turned out to be Hakeem.”
This statement by Kellerman is factual so it shouldn’t be surprising that he anointed Olajuwon as the best player, but it’s so unprecedented for Kellerman to give the Rockets any type of praise that it’s eye-catching to see him do it here. But during those two years Kellerman referenced, Olajuwon produced his highest-scoring seasons of his career, as he averaged 27.3 points in 1993-94 and 27.8 points in 1994-95.
During the 1993-94 season, Olajuwon became the first player in league history to win the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and NBA Finals MVP awards all in the same year. Olajuwon was also named First-Team All-Defense and First-Team All-NBA during that season, in addition to leading the Rockets to their first NBA title in franchise history.
During the 1994-95 season, Olajuwon helped the Rockets withstand a sixth place finish in the Western Conference to win their second consecutive title. Hakeem was again named the Finals MVP during the Rockets’ championship series against the Orlando Magic.
Olajuwon was named Third-Team All-NBA that season and was snubbed on each of the all-defensive teams, despite having a higher steals percentage and blocks percentage than the previous season in which he took home the Defensive Player of the Year trophy.
Kellerman didn’t have any back-handed comments about the Rockets’ title legitimacy, which was also surprising considering his consistent stance on anything Rockets-related. Hopefully this is a sign of more to come from Kellerman as it pertains to the Rockets, but don’t hold your breath.