Shaq and Olajuwon’s Game 1 battle in the 1995 NBA Finals deserves a deep rewind

Shaq and Olajuwon’s Game 1 battle in the 1995 NBA Finals deserves a deep rewind


– It’s June 7th, 1995. Game 1 of the NBA Finals at
The O-Rena in Orlando, Florida. The Magic and Rockets are tied at 118, with 5 1/2 seconds left in overtime. Houston is inbounding at half-court. This game obviously won’t
decide the championship, but Game 1 is important for
setting a tone for a series. Plus, there’s been a lot
of build-up to this moment. So, let’s rewind. (ethereal music) The Magic, here, are trying
desperately to keep hold of home court advantage,
an advantage they got from their 57-win
season, which earned them the number one seed in
the Eastern Conference. But just getting to this moment required a fat line of pixie dust. The NBA expansion in 1987 was supposed to feature three new teams: the Charlotte Hornets, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and one team in Florida, the Miami Heat. However, Jim Hewitt and
former 76ers GM Pat Williams tried to perform a little bit of magic and convince the League that Orlando was a perfect spot for a new franchise. Those Disney World workers
need something to cheer for. They were successful. The NBA decided: Yes, Florida does deserve two NBA franchises. In 1989, the newly-minted Orlando Magic kicked off their inaugural season in the freshly constructed Orlando Arena or, as it was affectionately
called, The O-Rena. They were comprised mostly of scraps left over from other teams, but they came out of the gates on fire, tying an expansion team record by winning seven of their first 14 games. But the magic didn’t last long, as Orlando would finish the season with the second worst record
in the NBA at 18 and 64. And, no, the Magic puns will not stop because it’s the only logical explanation for what was to come for this team. That, or luck. It could be luck. The Magic went from an
18-win team to a 57-win one seed in the Finals over
the course of six seasons, the second fastest Finals
appearance by an expansion team behind Kareem Abdul
Jabbar’s Bucks in 1971. And it is almost entirely
because of these two guys: Shaquille O’Neal and
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. After finishing with
the second-worst record in the NBA again, this
time in the ’91-’92 season, the Magic won the Draft Lottery. With the number one overall
pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic selected
LSU big boy Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq helped improve the Magic’s record by an astonishing 20 games. He became the first rookie
to start in the All-Star Game since Michael Jordan in ’85, and was named Rookie of the Year. But Orlando missed the Playoffs
by virtue of a tiebreaker with Indiana for the 8th seed, and thus received the lowest possible odds for the Number 1 Pick in the 1993 Draft. With one ping pong ball out of
66, the Magic defied all odds and again won the number 1 overall pick. With that pick, the Orlando
Magic selected Chris Webber who they then, in turn,
traded for the draft rights to Penny Hardaway and three
future first round picks. Hardaway was the ying to Shaq’s yang, and in 1995, both were named
starters in the All-Star Game. Together they led their team on a dream run to the NBA Finals. But there’s another key draft pick on the floor for the Magic,
albeit a less recognizable one. Nick Anderson was the first player ever drafted by the
franchise, taken 11th overall in the 1989 Draft out of Illinois. By the ’91-’92 season, he
had established himself as the Magic’s number one scorer. The additions of Shaq and Hardaway caused him to take a back seat, but he still finished
the ’95 regular season third in points-per-game
behind the two all-stars as the team headed to the postseason with championship aspirations. Anderson played a big role in
their playoff push as well, including Game 1 of the Eastern Semifinals against the Bulls. In March of this year, Michael
Jordan announced his return to the sport following
a brief baseball hiatus. He had been away for a year and a half, but still helped the Bulls
finish the season strong going 13 and four, with
Michael now donning number 45. But in the final seconds
of the opening game of the semifinal round,
with the Bulls up one, and with possession of the ball, Anderson stripped Jordan, which
led to a game-winning dunk by teammate, and former
Bull, Horace Grant. After the game, Anderson
was quoted saying: “He didn’t look like
the old Michael Jordan, “number 45 doesn’t explode
like number 23 used to.” In Game 2, Jordan went back to number 23 and torched the Magic for 38 points as the Bulls tied the series. But the Magic would close
them out in six games before knocking out the Pacers
in a tense seven-game series. Now, in Game 1 of the Finals,
the Magic needed someone to step up with their big man on the bench with early foul trouble. Enter Nick Anderson. Anderson went off for 15
points in the first half, including three-for-five from deep. The Magic’s lead ballooned to 20 points before finishing the half up 61-50. The first half was all Orlando, but, as you can see, the game doesn’t get
decided in regulation. The Rockets are defending champions and winners of their last
five road playoff games, one shy of the record set by the Bulls. They are not a team that’s going to be
pushed around very long, not with their own ying and
yang, big man and guard tandem, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Olajuwon and Drexler were both members of the same fraternity at
the University of Houston, Phi Slama Jama, whose meetings
were hosted above the rim and all hazing was done
to opposing players. The two took the University of Houston to the National Championship in 1983 where they fell historically
to the NC State Wolfpack on a last-second dunk. – [Announcer] From long ways, they did it! They won it! – Olajuwon would get one more shot at a NCAA title the following year, this time without Drexler. But Houston again fell short, this time at the hands of Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas. Olajuwon then declared
for the 1984 NBA Draft with hopes of being drafted by Houston who would win the first pick through a coin toss against Portland. His hopes came to fruition, and he was selected first
overall in a draft featuring Michael Jordan, Charles
Barkley, and John Stockton. He joined a Houston team featuring fellow big man Ralph Sampson, creating a duo dubbed the Twin Towers. Had the coin gone the other way, Olajuwon could’ve ended up
back with Drexler in Portland. But with the second pick, the Trailblazers selected Sam Bowie. So it worked out for all parties involved. In 1986, Olajuwon’s second season, the Rockets made their franchese’s second NBA Finals appearance, but fell to the Celtics in six games. Despite the loss, the future was bright for a young Rockets team,
or so it was thought. The Rockets followed up
their trip to the Finals with a Western Semifinals loss in 1987, the last Playoff run to
feature Houston’s Twin Towers. Halfway through the ’87-’88
season, Sampson was traded, and the once-bright Rockets
future got a little dimmer. The Rockets went five straight seasons without making it past the
first round of the Playoffs, including missing the
Playoffs altogether in 1992. The failures of the ’91-’92 season brought on a coaching change, and assistant Rudy Tomjanovich
took over for Don Chaney. In his first full year as head coach, the Rockets improved
their record by 13 games, won their first Playoff
Series in six years, and then suffered a
crushing overtime defeat in Game 7 of the Western Semifinals against the SuperSonics. The following year, Michael
Jordan announced his retirement. The championship was
officially up for grabs as Jordan’s Bulls had had a
stranglehold on the League. The Rockets wasted no time
chasing their championship dreams and came out of the gates 15 and O to start the ’93-’94 season and finished with a
franchise record 58 wins. The path to the Finals went
through the Suns and Jazz, both featuring fellow 1984 Draft picks, and neither being able to
stop Hakeem and the Rockets. This set up a championship
match-up against the Knicks, led by the man who beat Hakeem in the NCAA Championship, Patrick Ewing. After falling behind three-games-to-two, the Rockets clawed back,
winning the last two games, to take the Series in seven. Hakeem Olajuwon had won
the battle of the big men, outscoring Ewing in every game, and leading the Houston Rockets to their first championship
win in franchise history. As defending champs, the Rockets struggled early
in the ’94-’95 season, which pushed the front
office to make a move. They decided to send former all-star power forward Otis Thorpe to Portland in exchange for Olajuwon’s Phi Slama Jama
co-star Clyde Drexler. The two led the Rockets into the Playoffs as a lowly 6th seed and
the path ahead this time went through the three
top seeds in the west. Down two games to one in the
first round against the Jazz, Houston won back-to-back games with their season on the line. In Game 7 of the Western
Semifinals against Phoenix, Houston became the fifth
team in NBA history to come back from a three-one deficit, following Mario Elie’s
game-winning three-pointer. – [Announcer] Elie outta
the corner for three, hit it! – After facing five elimination games in the first two rounds, the Rockets defeated the
one seeded Spurs in six, and set up a chance to
become the first 6th seed to win a championship in NBA history. It was another battle of the big men, as Hakeem faced off against the
23-year-old Shaquille O’Neal and the red-hot, top-seeded Orlando Magic. And despite an onslaught by
the Magic in the first half, here were are: tied with a few ticks left
on the clock in overtime. One would think the Rockets’ comeback was led by their big man under the basket. But Shaq and Hakeem canceled each other out for the most part. Olajuwon is sitting at
29 points to Shaq’s 26, four blocks to Shaq’s three. O’Neal, however, is devouring
the glass with 16 rebounds to Olajuwon’s five. But as these two behemoths
battle under the hoop, this game, this comeback, this tie score with 5 1/2 seconds left on the clock, came from beyond the arc as well as some good
ol’ fashioned choking, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. The Rockets may have been
down 20 in the second, but they finished the quarter strong. Then, in the third, they
outscored the Magic 37 to 19. Orlando went one-for-eight from deep, while Houston’s Kenny Smith
hit five himself in a quarter. Smith, whose freshman year at UNC was alongside Michael Jordan, was drafted sixth overall
in the 1987 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. He made the 1988 All-Rookie First Team, but his time with the
Kings was short-lived as they traded him to Atlanta in 1990 who, in turn, traded him to Houston at the end of the season. He was an instant help to the Rockets as they won a then
franchise record 52 games in his first year with the team. He finished that ’90-’91
season 17th in MVP voting, one spot ahead of teammate Hakeem Olajuwon who had been limited to 56
games due to an eye injury. Smith began to lose playing
time to rookie Sam Cassell in the ’93-’94 championship season, but remained an integral part of the team, especially here in Game 1. But with three minutes left in regulation, the battle moved from the
three-point line into the paint. Shaq and Hakeem battled for
boards and traded post moves, until this move gone wrong
gave the ball back to Orlando with under a minute to
go and a three-point lead in favor of the Magic. With the shot clock winding down, Hardaway drove to the basket and straight into last year’s Defensive Player of the
Year Hakeem Olajuwon. But his miss was gathered by Horace Grant and kicked out to Brian Shaw, whose 3-point attempt was no good. But the Magic again came up
with an offensive rebound, this time in the hands of Penny Hardaway. With 20 seconds left, the Rockets
had no choice but to foul. With 10 and a half ticks
left, the Rockets sent Nick Anderson to the line. The first ever draft
pick of the franchise, a 70-percent free throw shooter, now just needed to hit one free throw to put the game out of reach and put the Magic one step closer to the franchise’s first championship. His first bounced off
the front of the rim, but that’s okay, he had another. His second again came up short, but, by the grace of the basketball gods, Anderson got his own rebound
and was fouled immediately. With seven seconds left, Anderson
was given a second chance. With two more chances at the line coming, Anderson just needed to hit
one of four free throws. The first one clinked off the rim again, but, this time, the back of the rim. The Magic had the lowest
free throw percentage in the regular season, but that was mostly due to
Shaq’s ineptitude at the line. Anderson, a generally
dependable free throw shooter, smiled at the basket
and let another one fly. – [Announcer] And he misses four straight, the Rockets take a time out with 5 6/10 seconds remaining – Oh man, that’s gonna stick with him. With five seconds
remaining, down by three, the Rockets put the ball in
the hot hands of Kenny Smith. – [Announcer] Been on fire, it hits! He’s tied the game! And that is an NBA Finals
record for Kenny Smith! – His NBA Finals record seventh
three-pointer of the game sends it to overtime. The Magic entered overtime in possession of a seven-and-three regular season overtime record. They were used to succeeding
in this situation, and they had home court
fans by their side. However, they did not
have history on their side as the last five Finals overtime games went in favor of the visiting team. And Houston is riding a
five-game-road-playoff win streak. Orlando struck first
with a tip-in by Grant, but the Rockets responded from deep, this time by Robert Horry. – Horry, for three. Yes! – Horry was drafted 11th
overall by the Rockets in 1992. He played an important role
in Houston’s ’94 Championship, but almost wasn’t part of the team at all. In February of 1994, the
Rockets agreed to a deal that would send Horry as part
of a package to the Pistons in exchange for Sean Elliott. Elliott then failed the required physical and the trade was voided. Horry went on to average
a team-high in assists, to go along with 10 points per game in the ’94 Finals win against the Knicks. Then, in this year’s
Western Conference Finals, Horry hit a game winner in
Game 1 against the Spurs, eventually helping them
take the series in six, which brought them here to the Finals. Horry followed up his three
on the next possession with a little bit of deja vu, drilling another from the
same spot on the floor with the game tied. With under a minute to go, Rockets still clinging
to a three-point lead, Drexler went up against Shaq only to get turned away at the rim. The Magic had time, there
was no reason to rush, but Shaq didn’t get the memo. And in a moment of foolishness, threw a lazy pass right into the outstretched
arms of Robert Horry. The Rockets didn’t score
on this possession, but they were able to suck
the blood of the game clock, giving the ball back to the Magic with now only 18 seconds remaining. The Magic called time with
eight seconds left on the clock and drew up a play to
get Hardaway the ball behind the arc. The Rockets, keen on the
plan, smothered Hardaway and forced Dennis Scott
to take another time out. The second time around they went to Shaq at the top of the key who
immediately gave it back to Scott. – [Announcer] Three in this powerful game! – Scott ties the game and
the Rockets call time out, which brings us here. Tie game. 5 1/2 seconds left in overtime. Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler,
and the Houston Rockets looking to tie an NBA record of six consecutive road playoff wins, and get a leg-up in their pursuit of
back-to-back championships. A young Orlando Magic, featuring the electric duo
of Shaq and Penny Hardaway, is aboard a carnival-like hype train, and trying to claw back
from a second half collapse. They’re hoping to keep hold
of the home court advantage they worked all season to have, and avoid a demoralizing Game 1 loss in front of their home fans. Welcome to a moment in history. – [Announcer] Drexler
puts the move on Anderson. Finger roll, the tip, Olajuwan! The Rockets lead, 3/10 of a second!

100 thoughts on “Shaq and Olajuwon’s Game 1 battle in the 1995 NBA Finals deserves a deep rewind

  1. The Magic were a great young team that should've won that series with home court advantage 10 out of 10 times. But Houston was a savvy veteran team that wanted it more. Magic acted like they were gonna be there 8 more times and Houston acted like it's now or never.

  2. Nick Anderson shouldn’t have ever trolled MJ. You know MJ was watching this game, willing him to miss each free throw.

  3. Wasted more than half the video on non-game 1 material, skipped the entire game to only show the finish that hardly involved the title players. Thanks for nothing.

  4. This series had the biggest what if factor I could think of. If th Magic won game 1 they probably would have won this series.

  5. Can't believe you completely ignored the Dream vs MVP Admiral battle the series before. That was kind of an essential setup to your matchup.

  6. Do the dream shake deep rewind, Hakeem went god mode against Spurs in that series because Robinson won MVP over him.

  7. Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the most underrated legends in NBA history. He should be in anyone's top 10 list.

  8. I love how I have to pause most of these videos to explore these great tangents that you bring up during the show. Looking at 1984 draft now. Thanks for putting these out 🙂

  9. This fails to mention the 3pt line was also shortened this year, enabling all these miraculous threes.

  10. Rangers vs Cardinals 2011 World Series. Game 6, David Freese. Perfect for rewind. As a die hard Ranger fan (even tho its painful) I would love to see that video get made.

  11. No rewind needed for me. I remembered this game and I'm a fan of Nick Anderson, but I call it as I see it. It was a huge choke job.

  12. Orlando starting off fast in Game one of the finals, then losing game one along with the next three reminded me a lot of the Tampa Bay Lightning this past postseason for the NHL. The Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game one over Columbus, but the Jackets came back, won and never stopped, ending Tampa's season in a sweep. The Bolts also won the Presidents' Trophy for most overall points during the regular season, so they had the team in place to compete for the cup. This Magic team had the potential to win it all in '95. These Florida teams have so much in common.

  13. Dude when you went in on Phi Slamma Jamma I felt like I was watching a multimillion dollar documentary. Your a great Narrator man natural Talent. Whoever did the background music …masterful. Your editors are on point this was a good piece of work.-
    “Who are you? :I am the guy that does his job you must be the other guy- Mark Walbergh Da Retardad .

  14. Game 1 doesn't "set the tone." Incredibly, it means one team has to win 3 games to win the series and the other has to win 4. That's why the loser of game 1 most often loses the series. Tone has nothing to do with it.

  15. Shaq's Orlando Magic days was awesome. Sure Shaw have had a legendary career and all, but I many times wish he coiuld have had them all in Magic.
    Even Shaq admits he wish that he could have all that if he had stayed with the Magic. To bad tho that Penny & Kobe both could not accept the formula of "Jing & Jang" as that combination was reviewed by many coaches & experts that if that system would have worked, Shaq's team(s) could have won a lot of more championships as that system was near unbeatble, only surpassed by the triangle system by Phil Jackson. Penny & Kobe wanted to be the star of attention instead of a two-star system with Shaq. Sure Shaq wanted to be a big star as well but he was a fine team player who chared the spotlight and also very liked as a person by most players in NBA.

  16. There is only one set of Twin Towers and they played for the Spurs. So dominate, in fact, that the actual Twin Towers in NYC had to bow out in between Spurs championship runs.

  17. Hakeem was awesome!! He also never really had to dribble either cause he was allowed to take 5 steps with being called for traveling

  18. Same game as 2011 game 2 of the finals.

    A young team runs the old one off the floor, but its lead melts down. They unbelievably go down by 3. A great inbounds play allows them to tie the game on a 3 by Scott/Chalmers, almost defeating karma. But they lose to a game winner under 3 seconds to go by a star player of old team.

    Old team wins the series as young team mentally collapses.

  19. Theoretically, if a 70 percent FT shooter takes 4 free throws, there is a .8 percent chance of said person missing all of them
    (.3x.3x.3x.3=.0081) Shaq on the other hand, would have a 5.3 percent chance of doing the same. If you were curious.

  20. " number 45 doesn't explode like number 23 used to" – so he changed jerseys to 23 and torched them the next game!!🤣🤣🤣petty

  21. This is the is the Islam playbook: Muslims begin moving to non-Muslim countries in increasing numbers and the beginning of cultural conflicts are visible, though often subtle. First migration wave to non-Muslim “host” country. Appeal for humanitarian tolerance from the host society. Attempts to portray Islam as a peaceful & Muslims as victims of misunderstanding and racism (even though Islam is not a ‘race’). High Muslim birth rate in host country increase Muslim population. Mosques used to spread Islam and dislike of host country & culture. Calls to criminalize “Islamophobia” as a hate crime. Threatened legal action for perceived discrimination. Offers of “interfaith dialogue” to indoctrinate non-Muslims. How many nations are suffering from Islamic infiltration? One? A handful? Nearly every nation? The Islamic ‘leadership” of the Muslim Brotherhood and others wish to dissolve each nation’s sovereignty and replace it with the global imposition of Islamic sharia law. Sharia law, based on the koran, sira and hadith, condemns liberty and forbids equality and is inconsistent with the laws of all Western nations. As the author and historian Serge Trifkovic states: “The refusal of the Western elite class to protect their nations from jihadist infiltration is the biggest betrayal in history.” STAGE 2: CONSOLIDATION OF POWER Muslim immigrants and host country converts continue demands for accommodation in employment, education, social services, financing and courts. Proselytizing increases; Establishment and Recruitment of Jihadi cells. Efforts to convert alienated segments of the population to Islam. Revisionist efforts to Islamize history. Efforts to destroy historic evidence that reveal true Islamism. Increased anti-western propaganda and psychological warfare. Efforts to recruit allies who share similar goals (communists, anarchists). Attempts to indoctrinate children to Islamist viewpoint. Increased efforts to intimidate, silence and eliminate non-Muslims. Efforts to introduce blasphemy and hate laws in order to silence critics. Continued focus on enlarging Muslim population by increasing Muslim births and immigration. Use of charities to recruit supporters and fund jihad. Covert efforts to bring about the destruction of host society from within. Development of Muslim political base in non-Muslim host society. Islamic Financial networks fund political growth, acquisition of land. Highly visible assassination of critics aimed to intimidate opposition. Tolerance of non-Muslims diminishes. Greater demands to adopt strict Islamic conduct. Clandestine amassing of weapons and explosives in hidden locations. Overt disregard/rejection of non-Muslim society’s legal system, culture. Efforts to undermine and destroy power base of non-Muslim religions including and especially Jews and Christians. Is there a pattern here? Theo van Gogh is murdered in the Netherlands for ‘insulting’ Islam; the Organization of the Islamic Conference demands ‘anti-blasphemy’ laws through the United Nations; France is set afire regularly by ‘youths’ (read Muslims); the rise of (dis-) honor killings…holocaust denial…anti-Semitism…deception re the tenets of Islam; hatred toward Christians and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists. The pattern for all to see is the rise of Islamic intolerance and the covert/cultural jihad to remake host societies into sharia-compliant worlds – to remove host sovereignty and replace it with Islamic sharia law. Sharia law that condemns earthly liberty and individual freedom, that forbids equality among faiths and between the sexes, that rejects the concept of nations outside the global house of Islam, that of dar al-Islam.

  22. The only reason Orlando even makes it to the finals and Houston even wins 1 ring is because Jordan retires we all know this except for delusional Houston Rocket fans.

  23. Robert Horry, the guy who somehow finds his way on every team going to the championship and hit the biggest shot of the night

  24. I’m pretty sure that Shaq going to the Magic was the reason the Grizzlies and Raptors were barred from receiving the no 1 pick for a few years after their expansion

  25. Great video! Really well done. I watched Hakeem’s entire career, year after year and this seems like yesterday. Too bad we didn’t meet the Bulls though. That would have been one for the ages. And yeah, we could have beat them, just like Orlando did.

  26. I’ll never forget this game. At the time, both Nick Anderson and Gary Payton were my favourite players in the NBA. After this game, only Gary stood. Nick never redeemed himself in my eyes and I never really liked or followed him again.

  27. Nick Anderson was never the same after that. He went from being a clutch, cold blooded killer to being a shell of his former self in one short series of events. Sometimes the moment is just too big.

  28. How unlucky for Orlando. Dwight also missed 2 free throws to seal the game then D. Fisher made a three to tie the game, send it to OT, then lakers won the game.

  29. Hard to watch Nick Anderson miss those free throws. I have to go watch him hit the game winner at Indiana (Hoosiers) to feel better.

  30. 1st two Anderson free throws were short, hitting the front of the rim. 2nd two free throws were long. He clearly compensated on the 2nd two for the 1st two. He also rushed the very last one. He shot that free throw so fast. Nick was a solid NBA player but that 1st miss clearly got in his head. And after those 4 free throw misses he was never the same player and he struggled badly at the line the rest of his career. Can't help but feel for the guy.

  31. The Dream still is the most skilled center still to this day and pretty much no one can even claim otherwise. You have to remember that even players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have worked in Hakeem's gym during the summers to learn the post game from the most skilled center of all time!

    Olajuwon may not have won as much as Kareem, Russell or Shaq did but he was still the most skilled, versatile and fluent of all of them. Kareem had his sky hook and was dominant but he was not as skilled or fast as Hakeem was. Russell did win the most but offensively no one can compare him to Hakeem. Shaq had size but otherwise nothing else against Olajuwon. Shaq actually has admitted Olajuwon was the only one who he could not break or get into one's head.

    For me Olajuwon is the greatest center of all time and the 4th best player of all time just behind Jordan, Magic and Bird.

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