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Is Jerry Colangelo throwing shade at the Rockets?

USA Basketball Team Training Camp
USA Basketball Team Training Camp / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
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To many, the Houston Rockets were the biggest beneficiaries of Michael Jordan's sudden, abrupt retirement. Jordan walked away from the game in 1993, as he attempted to embark on a baseball career.

Jordan's baseball journey started with the Birmingham Barons, which was the minor league team of the Chicago White Sox, which was an easy call, as the White Sox were owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Jordan also played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, posting a batting average of .252, which was higher than his batting average of .202 with the Barons.

All in all, Jordan was away from basketball from 1993 through 1995, which coincides with the timeframe of the Houston Rockets' titles, as they won back-to-back championships in 1993-94 and 1994-95. Jordan's retirement is seen as one of the biggest "what-if" in sports, as many believe the Rockets only won their championships because of Jordan's absence.

Is Jerry Colangelo throwing shade at the Houston Rockets?

Former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo also shares this line of thinking, as the 4-time Executive of the Year stated on Sirius XM's NBA Today.

"Houston goes and wins two titles. Michael was gone. Michael was not a factor. Of course for us he was."

Colangelo was explaining how timing can play a major role in a team winning a championship and cited the Rockets as an example, while noting the absence of Jordan during both years, and mentioning his former Suns' inability to get past Jordan's Bulls in the 1993 NBA Finals. 

The issue with this theory is that Jordan admitted that the Bulls had no answer for Hakeem Olajuwon

“He didn’t feel that they could contain Hakeem. They just didn’t have the personnel to do it. And he said he thought we were the team that gave them the most trouble.”

In addition, Olajuwon's Rockets squared off against Jordan's Bulls 23 times, and posted a 13-10 record, with Olajuwon averaging 21.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.3 rebounds per contest. But more importantly, Jordan had actually returned during the 1994-95 season and made it known that he was the same player that he had been up to that point.

Jordan had a 55-point game in his fifth game back from retirement and scored 30 or more points in 5 of the 10 postseason games that the Bulls were in during those playoffs. In fact, part of the reason we never saw the Rockets and Bulls face off during the Finals is because the Bulls simply weren't good enough with Jordan during that 1994-95 season, meaning the Rockets were the better team.

So although it's fun to discuss "what-if's" in sports, the truth is that the Rockets didn't just win those titles because Jordan was retired.

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