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June 14, 2010
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June 14, 2010

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EXCERPT | June 19, 1995

High and Mighty

The Rockets hammered the Magic in the NBA Finals

Few teams in NBA history have been as clutch as the '95 Rockets, who in an electrifying run to the Finals, beat the three teams with the best regular-season records in the league. Phil Taylor reported for SI.

It is time to give them their due, time to bow deeply before them with our hands outstretched in a we-are-not-worthy salute. Let us promise here and now that we will not doubt them again. We will not be fooled next year if they muddle through the regular season. Our faith will not be shaken if they are beset by injuries or suspensions, or make seemingly dubious trades. We will not be fazed if they walk right to the brink of elimination in the early rounds of the playoffs. It will not matter if they are down by 20 points in the fourth quarter, trailing three games to none. On the road. We know them now, and we will expect them to win, because that is what the Houston Rockets do. They win.

The Rockets were cautious after they had taken a 3--0 lead over the Orlando Magic in the best-of-seven NBA Finals with a 106--103 win on Sunday. "Don't start planning the parade yet," said forward Mario Elie, cognizant of Wednesday's Game 4 in Houston. "It's too early." But in reality, perhaps we are late. Maybe we should have been able to tell before this—if not after their first championship last season, then certainly somewhere during this stirring postseason run toward their second—that the Rockets are one of those special teams that are at their best when the stakes are highest.

The Rockets completed their second straight championship season by sweeping the Magic. Hakeem Olajuwan repeated as Finals MVP.

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