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1994 NBA Finals
1994 NBA Finals logo.png
Team Coach Wins
Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich 4
New York Knicks Pat Riley 3
Dates: June 8–22
MVP: Hakeem Olajuwon
(Houston Rockets)
Eastern Finals: Knicks defeated Pacers, 4–3
Western Finals: Rockets defeated Jazz, 4–1

The 1994 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1993–94 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs.

The Western Conference champion Houston Rockets played the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks for the championship, with the Rockets holding home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. The Rockets defeated the Knicks 4 games to 3 to win the team's first NBA championship.

This matchup was Hakeem Olajuwon's second NBA Finals appearance, his other being in 1986, where Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets four games to two. The series was Patrick Ewing's first NBA Finals appearance. The Rockets came in with strong determination to win not only the franchise's first NBA championship, but the city's first championship in a league that still existed, while the Knicks were looking to add a third NBA championship trophy, as the Knicks' last trophy came from the 1973 NBA Finals. The Knicks also hoped to impress their new owners Viacom, who had just bought Paramount Communications (formerly Gulf+Western), their longtime owners (after the series however, Viacom sold the Knicks and the rest of the Madison Square Garden properties).

The series was hailed as a meeting of the two great centers who had previously played for a championship in college. In 1984, while Olajuwon was with the University of Houston and Ewing was with Georgetown University, Georgetown had beaten Houston 84–75 in the 1984 NCAA Championship game. In this series, however, Olajuwon outperformed Ewing, outscoring him in every game of the series and posting numbers of 26.9 ppg on 50.0% shooting compared to Ewing's 18.9 ppg on 36.3% shooting. However, Ewing set an NBA finals record in the series with a total of 30 blocks, and he tied the single-game record of 8 blocks in Game 5. Tim Duncan would later set the record for most blocks in a Finals series (2003) with 32 blocks in six games while Dwight Howard would set the record for most blocked shots in a Finals game with 9 blocked shots in Game 4 of the 2009 Finals while with the Orlando Magic.

During the series, the Houston Rockets played seven low-scoring, defensive games against the New York Knicks. After splitting the first two games in Houston, the Knicks won two out of three games at Madison Square Garden, which also hosted the Rangers first Stanley Cup celebration in 54 years during the series.

In Game 6, however, Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon blocked a last-second championship-winning shot attempt by John Starks, giving the Rockets an 86–84 victory and forcing a Game 7, which made Knicks Coach Pat Riley the first (and to this date, the only) coach in a Game 7 NBA Finals on two teams, having been with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1984 and 1988. In addition, the Knicks set a record for most playoff games played in one season, with 25. The Detroit Pistons tied this record in 2005. The Boston Celtics, coached by Doc Rivers, would surpass it during their championship season of 2008 when they played 26.

The Rockets beat the Knicks in Game 7, 90–84, enabling the city of Houston to not only celebrate its first NBA and fifth professional sports championship (first in an existing league), but also deny New York from having both NBA and NHL championships in the same year (Chicago had suffered this fate two years earlier in 1992, with the Bulls winning their second NBA championship and the Blackhawks losing in the Stanley Cup Finals). For his efforts, Olajuwon was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. For the Knicks, Riley had the unfortunate distinction of having become the first (and to this date, the only) coach to lose a Game 7 NBA Finals on two teams, having lost to the Boston Celtics in 1984. It also denied him the distinction of being the first coach to win a Game 7 NBA Finals with two teams, having defeated the Detroit Pistons in 1988.

NBC Sports used Ahmad Rashād (Knicks sideline) and Hannah Storm (Rockets sideline).

Hal Douglas narrated the season-ending documentary Clutch City for NBA Entertainment.

1994 NBA Playoffs

Houston Rockets (Western Conference Champion) New York Knicks (Eastern Conference Champion)
58–24 (.707)

1st Midwest, 2nd West, 2nd Overall

Regular season 57–25 (.695)

1st Atlantic, 2nd East, 4th Overall

Defeated the (7) Portland Trail Blazers, 3–1 First Round Defeated the (7) New Jersey Nets, 3–1
Defeated the (3) Phoenix Suns, 4–3 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (3) Chicago Bulls, 4–3
Defeated the (5) Utah Jazz, 4–1 Conference Finals Defeated the (5) Indiana Pacers, 4–3

Regular season series

The Houston Rockets won both games in the regular season series:

December 2, 1993 Houston Rockets 94, New York Knicks 85    Madison Square Garden, New York City
February 24, 1994 New York Knicks 73, Houston Rockets 93    The Summit, Houston, Texas

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 June 8 Houston 85–78 New York
Game 2 June 10 Houston 83–91 New York
Game 3 June 12 New York 89–93 Houston
Game 4 June 15 New York 91–82 Houston
Game 5 June 17 New York 91–84 Houston
Game 6 June 19 Houston 86–84 New York
Game 7 June 22 Houston 90–84 New York

Game 1

June 8
9:00et
New York Knicks 78, Houston Rockets 85    The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
Referees:
  • No. 17 Joe Crawford
  • No. 14 Jack Madden
  • No. 27 Dick Bavetta
NBC
Scoring by quarter: 24–26, 22–28, 17–18, 15–13
Pts: Patrick Ewing 23
Rebs: Charles Oakley 14
Asts: Derek Harper 5
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 28
Rebs: Otis Thorpe 16
Asts: Kenny Smith 5
Houston leads the series, 1–0

Game 2

June 10
9:00et
New York Knicks 91, Houston Rockets 83    The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
Referees:
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush
  • No. 42 Hue Hollins
NBC
Scoring by quarter: 24–20, 18–22, 30–23, 19–18
Pts: John Starks 19
Rebs: Patrick Ewing 13
Asts: John Starks 9
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 25
Rebs: Otis Thorpe 12
Asts: Kenny Smith 6
Series tied, 1–1

Game 3

June 12
7:30et
Houston Rockets 93, New York Knicks 89    Madison Square Garden, New York City
Attendance: 19,763
Referees:
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell
  • No. 20 Jess Kersey
  • No. 21 Bill Oakes
NBC
Scoring by quarter: 26–18, 19–20, 24–25, 24–26
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 21
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 11
Asts: Hakeem Olajuwon 7
Pts: Derek Harper 21
Rebs: Patrick Ewing 13
Asts: John Starks 9
Houston leads the series, 2–1

Game 4

June 15
9:00et
Houston Rockets 82, New York Knicks 91    Madison Square Garden, New York City
Attendance: 19,763
Referees:
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 17 Joe Crawford
  • No. 13 Mike Mathis
NBC
Scoring by quarter: 14–19, 19–21, 28–20, 21–31
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 32
Rebs: Otis Thorpe 10
Asts: Sam Cassell 5
Pts: Derek Harper 21
Rebs: Charles Oakley 20
Asts: Derek Harper 5
Series tied, 2–2

Game 5

June 17
9:00et
Houston Rockets 84, New York Knicks 91    Madison Square Garden, New York City
Attendance: 19,763
Referees:
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush
  • No. 27 Dick Bavetta
NBC
Scoring by quarter: 21–22, 16–26, 24–13, 23–30
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 27
Rebs: Otis Thorpe 13
Asts: Robert Horry 6
Pts: Patrick Ewing 25
Rebs: Patrick Ewing 12
Asts: Derek Harper 7
New York leads the series, 3–2

Game 6

June 19
7:30et
New York Knicks 84, Houston Rockets 86    The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
Referees:
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell
  • No. 20 Jess Kersey
  • No. 14 Jack Madden
NBC
Scoring by quarter: 21–21, 15–25, 26–19, 22–21
Pts: John Starks 27
Rebs: Patrick Ewing 15
Asts: Derek Harper 10
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 30
Rebs: Olajuwon, Thorpe 10 each
Asts: Otis Thorpe 6
Series tied, 3–3

Game 7

June 22
9:00et
New York Knicks 84, Houston Rockets 90    The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
Referees:
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 17 Joe Crawford
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush
NBC
Scoring by quarter: 21–22, 22–23, 17–18, 24–27
Pts: Derek Harper 23
Rebs: Charles Oakley 14
Asts: Derek Harper 5
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 25
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 10
Asts: Hakeem Olajuwon 7
Houston wins the series, 4–3

Olajuwon vs. Ewing

Although most fans in New York, and some members of the national media, blamed John Starks' poor performance, who shot 2-for-18 from the field in Game 7, as a contributing factor in the Knicks' loss in the series, another important factor in the Rockets series win was Olajuwon's performance. Olajuwon outscored Ewing in every game of the series, while Ewing outblocked (4.3 to 3.9 bpg) and outrebounded him (12.4 rpg to 9.1 rpg). Ewing set a then NBA Finals record with a total of 30 blocks.[1]

1994 NBA Finals Gm 1 Gm 2 Gm 3 Gm 4 Gm 5 Gm 6 Gm 7 Totals
Hakeem Olajuwon 28 25 21 32 27 30 25 26.9 ppg 50.0% fg 9.1 rpg 3.6 apg 3.9 bpg
Patrick Ewing 23 16 18 16 25 17 17 18.9 ppg 36.4% fg 12.4 rpg 1.7 apg 4.3 bpg

Telecast interruption

During Game 5, most NBC affiliates split the coverage of the game between NFL Hall of Famer O. J. Simpson's slow speed freeway chase with the LAPD. At the time, Simpson had been an NFL analyst on NBC.

The coverage was presented on a split screen, with the game taking up the smaller portion of the television screen on the left, while live coverage of the chase was shown in a bigger screen on the right. The audio came from the chase as narrated by NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

KNBC in Los Angeles, serving the media market where the police were tracking Simpson, left the Game 5 broadcast completely for the chase with local coverage narrated by Paul Moyer and Colleen Williams; the station did not even put up a split screen until the end of the game, which was still close at the time. By this point, Simpson had returned to his mansion in Brentwood and had surrendered to police.

A complete re-broadcast of Game 5, with natural crowd audio substituting for the parts for which NBC did not provide audio, is part of the DVD release of this series from Warner Home Video.

Preceded by
1993
NBA Finals
1994
Succeeded by
1995
  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named holly
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