Kenny Smith Says His Rockets Teams Would Have Beaten Michael Jordan in the Finals

Social Navigation

Kenny Smith Says His Rockets Teams Would Have Beaten Michael Jordan in the Finals

Chicago Bulls, NBA

Kenny Smith is convinced that his Houston Rockets would have done something no one else could.

In an interview with The Ringer’s Tate Frazier on FanDuelTV, the former point guard and current Inside the NBA analyst sounded confident that Michael Jordan would have lost to the mid-90s Rockets.

Of course, he and HOFer Hakeem Olajuwon won back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995, dominating the league the moment Jordan retired for the first time.

“We’d win,” Smith claimed. “Let me quantify it, that means they would win eight championships in a row. That’s pretty impressive. In our modern era, we still haven’t seen that.

The other thing is, we saw the documentary, there was dissension within those years that’s why it stopped. So Horace Grant was not there, so now he’s on the Magic. And no one was saying Michael Jordan was rusty when he was getting 55 points on the Knicks, so he was there one of those years that we won. They lost to the Orlando Magic, and we swept them. But the reason they lost to the Magic, it wasn’t because Michael didn’t have greatness, they were just too small.”

Smith, is right, Jordan was back in the league by in 1995 when the Rockets took home their second ring. The Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing to the dominant frontcourt of Horace Grant and Shaquille O’Neal. With all due respect to that Magic team, however, Jordan had just 17 games under his belt before the start of those playoffs. Yes, he may have had the iconic double-nickel performance five games into his return, but it’s hard not to question if he was truly in peak basketball shape entering the postseason.

Not to mention, just because the Rockets swept the Magic in the Finals doesn’t mean they’d take care of the GOAT. Chicago split the regular season with Houston in 1993-94 and 1994-95 without Jordan, so it’s not crazy to think that adding the best player in the game into the mix could push them over the edge.

But, fine, the size discrepancy would have definitely been a concern. I also think it’s perfectly valid to bring up that winning eight championships in a row would be really freakin’ hard. While I wouldn’t put it past the best player to ever do it, I also believe that Jordan’s time away from the game is at least part of the reason his dominance continued. He took time off because his heart wasn’t in it anymore (or was it because David Stern made him!?), and who’s to say exactly how that may have impacted the team’s play?

I also don’t think we should discredit Hakeem “The Dream.” I genuinely think his greatness goes a bit underappreciated at times. Jordan held just a 10-13 record against him all time, per Statmuse. He was one of the most athletic and versatile big men we’ve ever seen on the court, and he would have matched up well against the teams that came before the second three-peat.

“Those teams with no Rodman, no Grant? Our team was better,” Smith said. “Not that Michael wasn’t the best player on the planet still, but we’ve seen the best player on the planet at times not have the best team.”

So, yeah, I’m not going to sit here and completely rule out the possibility that the Rockets would have walked away with one of those hypothetical series. But that’s also all we’re talking about here … a hypothetical series.

If I know one thing is for sure, though, I would have loved to see Jordan vs. Hakeem on the biggest stage. That would’ve been some epic basketball.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.