Season by Season
1993 to 1994
Jordan Retires, Olajuwon Ascends
The biggest news of 1993-94 came a full month before the season got underway.
On October 6, Michael Jordan, three-time NBA regular-season and NBA Finals
Most Valuable Player, announced his retirement from the sport at age 30,
saying he had accomplished all he set out to do in basketball. Not since
Jim Brown's retirement from the NFL had a star of such magnitude stepped
away while he was at the pinnacle, having won NBA championships in his
final three seasons and scoring titles in his final seven. But Jordan's
departure had an energizing effect on the league, as the championship
now seemed within reach of any number of teams.
Hakeem Olajuwon, the Finals MVP, gave Houston its first major-league championship in any sport.
Seven teams went on to win at least 55 games, led by Seattle, which had
come within one game of the NBA Finals a year ago. The SuperSonics won
63 games to lead the West, while Houston, led by NBA Most Valuable Player
Hakeem Olajuwon, won 58. In the East, a pair of defensive stalwarts, New
York and Atlanta, won 57 games apiece, while the Jordan-less Chicago Bulls
did surprisingly well, winning 55. Phoenix, which battled through injuries
to Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson, won 56 games, and San Antonio, with
David Robinson enjoying his best season, won 55.
In the postseason, a young Denver squad achieved what was thought impossible,
becoming the first No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed when it came back
from a 2-0 deficit and ousted Seattle in the First Round. Houston disposed
of Portland easily, came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Phoenix in
seven games, and beat Utah in five games to advance to the NBA Finals
for the first time since 1986. New York, which took the hard road all
season with its grinding defense, dismissed New Jersey, then survived
seven-game series against Chicago and Indiana to reach the Finals for
the first time since 1973. But New York came up short in its third consecutive
seven-game series as Houston captured its first NBA title by winning
Game 7 at home, 90-84, closing out the first Finals since 1955 where
neither team reached 100 points in any game.
OLAJUWON ACHIEVES SUPERSTAR STATUS
Hakeem Olajuwon had long been the NBA's most underrated superstar, quietly
flourishing in the background while charismatic stars like Larry Bird,
Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas and Charles Barkley captured
the spotlight. Olajuwon made it to the NBA Finals in his second NBA
season in 1986, but didn't make it back to the NBA's premier stage until
1994, when he capped his MVP season by bringing the city of Houston
its first major-league championship in any sport.
Olajuwon had a magnificent NBA Finals, winning his private duel with
Patrick Ewing and scoring 26.9 ppg in a series where Houston managed
just 86.1 ppg. He also averaged 9.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.86 blocked
shots, and it was his block of John Starks' last-ditch three-pointer
that preserved Houston's 86-84 win in Game 6. In the company of Jordan
at last, Olajuwon added a championship ring and the NBA Finals MVP award
to his regular-season MVP trophy.
NBA History Season by Season
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