Matt Bullard on the Rockets Trade and Changing Team Culture
I also asked Matt Bullard, who was on the1994 championship team and returned for the 1996-97 season, about his thoughts on if the Rockets organization should have been more patient.
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“At the time I was completely focused on my own play,” replied Bullard. “I had no control over who my teammates were so I didn’t give it any thought.
“However, a great ‘what if’ would be to give the Clutch City Rockets another shot to run at the Sonics, Suns, Spurs, Jazz and Bulls gauntlet.”
Bullard also chimed in on Sir Charles: “And having Barkley as a teammate was super fun!”
I also asked if the culture was any different between the 1994 and 1996 teams when he returned. “Yes,” said Matt. “The culture started with Rudy T, Dream, and Clyde.”
“The rest were following their lead,” Bullard continued. “Barkley, Kevin Willis and Eddie Johnson all came and fit right in. But I think the championship confidence flowed down from Rudy T, Dream and Clyde.”
Whether the reason was financial or the fact the organization didn’t believe the team could get past the Sonics, they can’t be blamed too much for wanting to go all-in by sacrificing some of their future.
Sports are filled with what-ifs and the Rockets have had plenty. With the careers both Cassell and Horry had after they were traded, it does make you wonder, though. What if the Rockets would have stayed pat and added Willis and Johnson? Would they have been better off in the long run?
There is no way to tell for sure, but judging on how great both players were post-Rockets, it’s a good bet that it wouldn’t have taken the Rockets another 18 years after 1997 to again reach the Western Conference Finals.