Toni Kukoc says that the 1994 Bulls could’ve beaten Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets without Michel Jordan due to a simple reason.
The 1993-94 season marked a strange year within the league as it saw the departure of Michael Jordan from the NBA. With Jordan off pursuing baseball, something his father always wanted him to do, Scottie Pippen was the main man in Chicago. Bulls fans were accustomed to success on the level of championships and surprisingly, Pippen and company gave them such hope even without MJ at the helm.
The Chicago Bulls finished off with a 55-27 record and Scottie Pippen was placed 3rd in voting for league MVP. Even with Michael Jordan playing a whole other sport at the time, the Bulls took one of the great defensive teams from the 90s, the 94 New York Knicks, to 7 games in the ECSF. They would lose however and have their chance at a 4-peat crushed by Patrick Ewing.
When talking about the heroism the Bulls displayed by reaching as far as they did in Michael Jordan’s absence, Toni Kukoc lets loose a hot take.
Toni Kukoc believes the Bulls could beat Hakeem and the Rockets without Michael Jordan in 1994.
In his first season in the NBA, Toni Kukoc would put up decent stats as he posted up 10 points per game on 46% shooting from the field, while snagging a little over a steal a game. Recently, while conversing with Brandon Robinson, Kukoc claimed that the Michael Jordan-less Bulls in 1994 could’ve beaten the eventual champs, Houston Rockets.
Toni Kukoc’s reasoning simple and it was that they had swept the season series in the 1994 regular season against the Rockets. This may have been enough for Kukoc to have utmost confidence in his ‘94 squad but Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets were in joke from 1994-96.
Scottie Pippen was MVP in ‘94 says Toni Kukoc – – https://t.co/sFfurhUwKs
“He was a guy that made everybody else better and he did everything possible to keep that team on the right course.”
— 👑 Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson 📍 (@ScoopB) July 19, 2021
In the ‘94 season, the Rockets would outscore opponents, on average by nearly 5 points per game, boasting a defensive rating of 96.8, good for 5th best in the league. Their defense was anchored by Hakeem Olajuwon as was their offense. Guys like Vernon Maxwell, Sam Cassell, and Otis Thorpe did their thing too.
It’s safe to say that being able to beat that Knicks team was a great litmus test to see if you could hang with the Hakeem-led Rockets.