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EXCERPT | June 19, 1995
High and Mighty
The Rockets hammered the Magic in the NBA Finals
Few teams in NBA history have been as clutch as the '95 Rockets, who in an electrifying run to the Finals, beat the three teams with the best regular-season records in the league. Phil Taylor reported for SI.
It is time to give them their due, time to bow deeply before them with our hands outstretched in a we-are-not-worthy salute. Let us promise here and now that we will not doubt them again. We will not be fooled next year if they muddle through the regular season. Our faith will not be shaken if they are beset by injuries or suspensions, or make seemingly dubious trades. We will not be fazed if they walk right to the brink of elimination in the early rounds of the playoffs. It will not matter if they are down by 20 points in the fourth quarter, trailing three games to none. On the road. We know them now, and we will expect them to win, because that is what the Houston Rockets do. They win.
The Rockets were cautious after they had taken a 3--0 lead over the Orlando Magic in the best-of-seven NBA Finals with a 106--103 win on Sunday. "Don't start planning the parade yet," said forward Mario Elie, cognizant of Wednesday's Game 4 in Houston. "It's too early." But in reality, perhaps we are late. Maybe we should have been able to tell before this—if not after their first championship last season, then certainly somewhere during this stirring postseason run toward their second—that the Rockets are one of those special teams that are at their best when the stakes are highest.
The Rockets completed their second straight championship season by sweeping the Magic. Hakeem Olajuwan repeated as Finals MVP.
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Upon Further Review
SI.com's Don Banks examines how the NFL embraced Instant Replay
Though the NFL's long march to adopt and refine instant replay never quite experienced a tipping-point to match what MLB umpire Jim Joyce wrought on June 2 in Detroit, there were a couple of high-profile blown calls along the way that prompted the league to institute replay as an officiating tool. If baseball follows suit and expands the use of replay in the wake of Joyce's blown call, the mustached umpire will take his place alongside the likes of Vinny Testaverde(above) as a poster boy for the use of replay.
HECK, NO, HE WON'T GO
By Jeff Pearlman
Mets' Oliver Perez shows selfishness by refusing to go to minors
By Andy Staples
Do Mack Brown and Texas hold the key to conference expansion?
By Michael Rosenberg
Imagine if D-Wade and the NBA's top free agents sat down to chat
John Wooden In Memoriam
Tough Mudder Endurance Race
LeBron James Larry King Show
Online Cover Gallery
A Title Tandem
John Havlicek led all Celtics in scoring in a seven-game Finals win over L.A. It was Boston's fifth Finals triumph over the Lakers—who moved from Minneapolis in '60—in seven years.
Wilt Chamberlain and L.A. won 55 games, including four of six over the Celtics, during the regular season. But in the Finals the Lakers fell to Boston for the seventh time.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at the age of 38, was the Finals MVP as the Lakers finally beat the Celtics for an NBA title. He led L.A. in playoff scoring with 21.9 points per game.
Photograph by JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
INSIDE AND OUT When forward Robert Horry wasn't draining key three-pointers, he was attacking the middle with abandon. Here he soars above the Magic's Shaquille O'Neal.
SHEEDY & LONG
MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (TESTAVERDE)
LORENZO BEVILAQUA/CNN (JAMES)
¬© MARIELA LOMBARD/ZUMAPRESS.COM (MUDDERS)
RICH CLARKSON (WOODEN)
JOHN IACONO (PEREZ)
ROBERT BECK (BROWN)
GREG NELSON (WADE)