NBA Finals NBA Finals


SI Flashback: NBA Finals

Finals MVP: Hakeem Olajuwon, Rockets

In the first season with no Michael Jordan (baseball), the Rockets developed into the class of the league, winning the last two games of a bruising Finals against the Knicks to capture the franchise's first NBA title.

Snapshot from Down to the Wire

By Phil Taylor

They Said It
"There is still no one on the horizon who can counteract the things Bill Russell can do to you. The Celtics will be strong until they lose him."
—Lakers coach Fred Schaus

"This one meant more to me than any other. Those Lakers give me the feeling things aren't going to be the same next year."

Ultimate excitement: The Finals were at once ragged and thrilling, the kind of series that causes viewers to cover their eyes with one hand while biting their nails with the other. But many observers seemed so concerned with grading the quality of play that they barely noticed that there hasn't been a Finals in recent memory that features as many edge-of-the-seat conclusions.

A little help: While the Rockets were getting important contributions from their bench, the role of the Knick reserves was shrinking. Pat Riley turned New York into essentially a six-man team, with only forward Anthony Mason doing anything more than giving the five starters a chance to quickly catch their breath.

Homecookin': The Rockets went home Sunday night thinking of their home floor at the Summit as the promised land. The prospect of playing Game 7 there was comforting to them, especially to Kenny Smith, who welcomed the chance to make further amends for his earlier difficulties. Like other Rockets and Knicks, Smith knew that everything that had gone before in these Finals -- the debates over the strength of the league and the gracefulness of the play -- was about to recede into the background. "Game 7," Smith said, "is the only thing anybody will remember."

Issue date: June 27, 1994