Rockets: Hearts of Champions

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Rockets: Hearts of Champions

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Hearts of Champions 
The Houston Rockets

On June 14, 1995, the Houston Rockets won their second straight NBA title. This win caused them to ascend to the ranks of the best teams of all time. They are only the sixth team in history to win consecutive championships.

Under the leadership of Coach Rudy Tomjanovich, they became the lowest seeded team to ever win the title. They were seeded sixth. They had the most difficult route to the championship in NBA history, and were the first team in twenty-six years to win without having the home-court advantage in any playoff round.

Houston won seven straight road victories, which was a postseason record. They averaged 114 points per game against their opponent Orlando.

The series was seen as a classic matchup between the Rocket's Hakeem Olajuwon (34) and the Orlando Magic's Shaquille O'Neal (32). Olajuwon won the MVP honor for the second year in a row. Although he was double-teamed, he continued to pour in over 30 points per game.

Houston's Kenny Smith said, "If they double Dream, we hurt them with the threes, but if they don't double him, he might go for 50 or 60."

During the series, third year small forward Robert Horry (25) transformed himself into a power forward with outside shooting, rebounding and remarkable defensive moves, including seven steals in game two. Horace Grant (55), Orlando's power forward, who had a difficult time with Robert Horry, compared him to his old teammate, Scotty Pippen.

Even with tremendous play from Orlando's first-team All-NBA point guard, Anfernee Hardaway (1), the Magic could not pull out enough tricks to stop the Rockets. Coach Tomjanovich's most outstanding job was the way that he worked Clyde Drexler (22) into the Houston lineup after coming there in February from the Portland Trail Blazers. Sports Illustrated said, "Drexler brought hunger to Houston." The 32-year-old star had never won a championship, but in game three he had 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Ultimately, Coach Tomjanovich said the special thing about this Houston team was that they had heart. Anfernee Hardaway said, "You look at this team on paper, and you might wonder how it wins, but the team has as much heart as anybody."

Evidently, they actually have the “Hearts of Champions.”