The 1994 NBA season was the one that Hakeem Olajuwon would be remembered for. He averaged a career-high 32 points per game, and led the Houston Rockets to an NBA Finals appearance. However, even with his leading performance, he missed out on being named MVP by 2.5 points in voting.
Hakeem Olajuwon had an almost perfect season in 1994. He averaged 30.1 points per game, but missed out on the scoring award by 2.5 points.
It’s easy to forget that Michael Jordan was not the first overall selection in the NBA draft. Despite his achievements, he will never be the first pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. The great Hakeem Olajuwon deserves this award. Until Jordan departed the league in the summer of 1993, the first overall selection took a backseat to the No. 3 overall pick.
With Jordan out of the picture, Olajuwon has swiftly established himself as the league’s face. With Olajuwon earning MVP, Defensive Player of the Year is a title awarded to a player who excels on defense, and Finals MVP, the Houston Rockets won the first of their back-to-back titles. Olajuwon would have had a flawless season if he could have scored a couple more points each night.
NBA Champion in 1994
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Against the New York Knicks, Olajuwon guided the Rockets to the NBA Finals. You had both teams finally emerging from Michael Jordan’s shadow, poised to capture a championship after Jordan’s Bulls had won it from 1991 to 1993. The Finals were very exciting, as the seven-game series featured Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, the league’s two greatest overall centers.
After falling down 2-1 in the series, the Knicks won two consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead. In Game 6, the Rockets led 86-84 in the closing seconds of the game. Knicks player John Starks, who ended the game with 27 points, missed a game-winning, series-clinching three-point attempt. As time expired, Olajuwon pulled off the clutch block. Then, in Game 7, he finished the series with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds to give Houston its first title since the Oilers and the American Football League joined the league in 1961.
Finals MVP in 1994
Olajuwon crushed Ewing in a head-to-head battle. In every game of the series, he outscored Ewing. Furthermore, Oljauon averaged 26.9 points on 50% shooting compared to 18.9 points and 36.3 percent shooting for Ewing. He also won Finals MVP with his first championship ring.
In this series, there was no one better than Olajuwon. It’s also worth noting that Olajuwon beat out Charles Barkley and Karl Malone to reach the NBA Finals, with the Suns’ series lasting seven games.
NBA Photo Credit
When the Rockets began the season with 15 consecutive wins, they matched a record established by the Washington Capitols in 1948. The Rockets began the season 22-1 before finishing with a 58-24 record to earn the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed. He was awarded MVP for his performance, making him the first foreign-born athlete to receive such an honor.
Olajuwon led the NBA in two-point field goals, was third in points per game, sixth in rebounds, and second in blocks. In an age when the center position was the cream of the crop, he was the finest overall center in the game. After leading the league in points per game and having six more win shares than Olajuwon, David Robinson had a strong case to win this honor, but the Spurs were the No. 4 seed in the West.
Defensive Player of the Year
With 8.0 defensive win shares, Patrick Ewing topped the league. You may be wondering who came in second. With a 7.9, Hakeem Olajuwon comes in second. Olajuwon was second in defensive rebounding to Dennis Rodman and second in block king Dikembe Mutombo. The Rockets weren’t the league’s greatest overall defensive team, but they came close due to their All-Defensive First Team center anchoring the middle.
First Team All-NBA
This season, Olajuwon earned a reputation as a clutch performer in the league. Based on his performance in 1993-1994, he also established himself as one of the best centers in the game’s history. Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dikembe Mutombo were among the centers he outplayed. Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone, both defensive specialists, are included in this group.
3rd in the scoring race, 2.5 points behind leader David Robinson
Olajuwon had a great season, averaging 27.3 points per game, but he was only a hair short of David Robinson in the end. After all, it needed 71 points from Robinson in the season’s last game to win the championship. One of the most exciting races for the scoring honor was this one. Robinson led the team with 29.8 points per game, Shaq was second with 29.3 points per game, and Hakeem was third with 27.3 points per game.
It’s incredible to imagine that Olajuwon was a field goal and maybe a free throw away from a perfect season each night. That said, saying it is a lot simpler than doing it. Olajuwon ended up being the greatest this year, winning almost every accolade including his first title.
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