Hakeem Olajuwon Leads Rockets to First NBA Championship

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1994 NBA Finals Tip-Off
1994 NBA Finals Tip-Off

1994 NBA Finals Tip-Off
1994 NBA Finals Tip-Off

If you really want to see how much the game of NBA basketball has changed, look no further than the 1994 NBA Finals. The Houston Rockets, led by big man Hakeem Olajuwon, faced off against the New York Knicks, led by their big man Patrick Ewing. Both men were looking to take advantage of a time when Michael Jordan was out of the league. Both teams pulled out all the stops with a bruising, physical game that is unheard of in today’s day and age. Also, the ’94 Finals was a rematch between the two centers who played against each other in their college days. Ewing’s Georgetown got the best of Olajuwon’s University of Houston in the 1984 NCAA Championship.

Hakeem Olajuwon in L.A. Gear
Hakeem Olajuwon in L.A. Gear

Ewing was hoping to bring that Championship to New York where he was the main man since the Knicks chose him #1 in 1985. However, in his way stood the 1984 #1 pick and a man who was having the best season of his career. Hakeem and his “Dream Shake” would not be stopped as he too was hoping to bring a long-awaited championship to the team that had had 2 prior chances in the Finals but could not come through. The third time proved to be the charm for the Rockets.

Rocking L.A. Gear then, Hakeem looked like and was the most dominating player on the court. Doing it on both ends of the field, he lead the team in minutes played, points, rebounds, blocks, and heart. Key plays, including a game-saving block in game 6, allowed Houston to get to the Championship deciding Game 7. In that game 7, Hakeem really showed his skills. On this date, Hakeem finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 blocks to lead his team to a 90-84 finale. Closing a storybook season, he became the first player to be named NBA MVP, NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and NBA Finals MVP in the same season. Houston’s dream of winning a NBA Championship became a reality on this day in 1994.