This week on NBA Tuesday, we take on the season that we first believe was fixed in NBA history, specifically the Finals themselves. It’s a long story we will write about more sometime in the future, but suffice it to say, it involved the minimal TV ratings at the time expected from Houston/Orlando matchup that wouldn’t play as well as NBC’s normal sit-com lineup of Seinfeld, Friends, etc.
Remember also to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context,
because knowledge is power.
1995 NBA FINALS MVP: Hakeem Olajuwon, C, Houston (original, confirmed)
The Rockets upset the heavily favored Magic in the Finals, even pulling off a very improbable sweep. Houston’s second straight title came with a different lineup than the year before, although star center Hakeem Olajuwon won the MVP vote again. He put up a stunning line of 32.8 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.0 bpg, and 2.0 spg. Overall, the Rockets had five players scoring at least 14.0 ppg in the Finals.
However, Orlando had six guys scoring in doubles for a series that went to Houston by 7 ppg, on average. Olajuwon had a lot to overcome, so his all-around game warrants the MVP nod, for sure. There’s nothing he couldn’t do at age 32, still, in one of the more remarkable playoff runs ever. Remember, the Rockets won just 47 games to finish third in their division.
1995 NBA DPOY: Dikembe Mutombo, C, Denver (original, confirmed)
Here is our vetted list of contenders here in the balloting won by Denver Nuggets legendary center Dikembe Mutombo. It starts with San Antonio Spurs C David Robinson (6.74 DWS), Chicago Bulls small forward Scottie Pippen (6.73), New York Knicks C Patrick Ewing (6.50), Utah Jazz power forward Karl Malone (5.78), Olajuwon (5.64), Mutombo (5.21), and Charlotte Hornets C Alonzo Mourning (5.10).
Funny to see three Georgetown University centers on that list, isn’t it? Wow! Now here is the playoff reality, too: San Antonio (23), Chicago (13), New York (21), Utah (21), Houston (8), Denver (2), and Charlotte (16). So, it looks like Mutombo gets a second straight nod from us here, because without his defense, the Nuggets would have been on the golf course in late April instead of on the hardcourt.
Mutombo won this vote pretty easily, and we think it was run off from the prior year’s postseason, but whatever. The numbers confirm it here: 8.7 defensive boards per game, a league-best 3.9 bpg, and 1.4 spg. Denver outscored its opponents by just 0.8 ppg in the regular season, finishing at 41-41 to claim the final Western Conference playoff berth. His defense made all the difference for that mediocre team.