Kenny Smith claims 1994 Rockets would’ve beaten Bulls even with Michael Jordan playing
Kenny Smith, who is now a co-host of Inside the NBA, was part of the back-to-back championship winning Houston Rockets team of the 1990s. Together with Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Horry, and Sam Cassell, the team was able to win the title in 1994 and 1995, during the time Michael Jordan first retired.
However, the outspoken former point guard made a bold claim recently that even if His Airness was playing, his 1994 squad would still beat the Chicago Bulls. He then reminded the interviewer, Brandon Robinson, that Jordan played in the second year they won the title, but they lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“Oh we would’ve beat them.”
“And actually everyone forgets he was playing the second year, he was wearing number 45 and the team they lost to, the Orlando Magic, we swept them. We were that much better than them that year, [and] they lost to them.”
Smith then cited the matchup problems the Bulls would’ve had against them, which makes him believe that they were better than them that year. He also said Jordan is greatest player ever but his Rockets were capable of giving him his first finals loss.
”Even if a good, healthy Michael takes them to seven and maybe wins we would’ve beat the Bulls without a question, they didn’t match up well with us and during those years that they were actually winning championships, which wasn’t the playoffs. We were 8-2 against them during those years. We matched up well with them. We wouldn’t have been scared I tell you that much.”
“Michael is the greatest player that ever lived. So the legacy is going to be big, bigger than it should be and he never lost in the Finals, so we would have been the first.”
Although both teams never met in the finals, Smith’s strong opinion makes many wonder what could’ve been if the Rockets and Bulls indeed competed for a title. Chicago may not have had a stopper for Olajuwon and Houston would’ve had a problem defending Jordan, so it’d be up to the role players to step up and make it possible for their teams to win.
The dream matchup could’ve happened in 1997, albeit with a different Rockets roster, but as it turned out, the Utah Jazz had other plans in mind, forcing a showdown with the Bulls and Jordan, who led them to another three-peat, strengthening his case even more as the greatest of all-time.