Can this Rockets team repeat what the '94-'95 team did?
We have lived watching an era of sports in which we've been blessed to have seen a ton of all-time greats. There have been some of the greatest individual, team, and league seasons that can be put up against any in history and argued to have been the greatest.
With that said, we have also seen history repeat itself. Kobe Bryant was the closest thing we've seen to Michael Jordan. Tom Brady has eclipsed anything we thought about Joe Montana and John Elway. Steroid Era aside, we have seen home run records fall, .400 has been remotely threatened a handful of times, and some of the most dominate pitching in a hitter-friendly era.
But have we ever seen a season in any sport, from any franchise come close to what this year's Rockets team may be able to mimic when it comes to the '94-'95 team did? Before you get started saying "Jermaine has lost his damn mind again," hear me out.
I know full well the '94-'95 team won back to back titles and this team has yet to win one. I know that team hold a special place in the city of Houston's collective hearts, and this one tends to hold a special place as a pain in the city's collective ass. But there are some similarities worth paying attention to.
Let's start with the obvious. Each of these teams featured a dominant alpha dog that was/is the centerpiece of everything. Hakeem Olajuwon and James Harden are the two greatest players in this team's history. Both will be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (Olajuwon already is). Both won league MVP the previous season. Olajuwon infamously lost out on back to back MVP awards to rival David Robinson of the Spurs and made him pay dearly in the playoffs. With the stretch Harden is currently on, he may win back to back MVP awards, but if another player's team finishes higher in the league standings, he may be given the award over Harden. In this regard, I'm specifically looking at Russell Westbrook as it refers to this article for historical parallels being that they have the possibility of meeting in the playoffs. The Thunder currently sit in third place in the Western Conference while the Rockets are fourth.
That '94-'95 team also made the key trade for Clyde Drexler two days after the All-Star game to help boost their run to a title. This year's Rockets team has been off kilter and desperately need to make a trade to help them down the stretch run. While much of this team's struggles are due to injury, the struggles are similar. This year's team is 25-18 through 43 games played, and the '94-'95 team was 28-15 at the same point in the season, finished 47-35 and won the NBA title from the sixth seed (lowest ever to win it all).Am I saying that this year's Rockets will repeat what one of the most beloved teams in franchise history has done? It may not be likely, but it is possible. This year's Rockets are 9-8 against all current Western Conference playoff teams, including an impressive 6-3 against the four teams ahead or tied with them in the current standings. That 3-5 record versus the teams below them is bothersome, but not as off-putting as it could be. If this team doesn't get healthy, make a deal for reinforcements, and James Harden doesn't maintain his level of play throughout the playoffs, none of this will come true. Admit it; these two seasons do look eerily similar. How sweet would it be if they ended similarly?