The Houston Rockets 58-24 coached by Rudy Tomjanovich with executives Tod Leiweke and Bob Weinhauer faced the New York Knicks 57-25 coached by Pat Riley and with executive Ernie Grunfeld.
Micheal Jordan had retired and the Bulls were not back to defend their title.
The series would include two of the best centers of that day in Hakeem Olajuwon for Houston and Patrick Ewing for theKnicks.
Houston was led by Olajuwon with 27.3 points per game, 11.9 rebounds per game, Otis Thorpe 14.0 ppg, 10.6 rpg, Vernon Maxwell 13.6 ppg, 5.1 assists per game and Kenny Smith 11.6 ppg, 4.2 apg.
New York was led by Ewing with 24.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg, Charles Oakley 11.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg, John Starks 19.0 ppg, 5.90 apg, Charles Smith 10.4 ppg and Hubert Davis 11.0 ppg.
Game one was at the Summit in Houston and was a defensive battle as Houston won 85-78. This game would set the tone for theentire series as neither team scored 100 points or more during any game in the series.
Olajuwon led Houston with 28 points and 10 rebounds and Otis Thorpe pulled down 16 rebounds while for New York Ewing had23 points and Charles Oakley had 14 rebounds.
The Knicks bounced back to win game two 91-83 with a 30-23 third quarter and had six players score in double figures led by John Starks with 19 and Derek Harper with 18 while Ewing added 13 rebounds.
Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets with 25 points and Vernon Maxwell had 20 and Otis Thorpe had 12 rebounds.
Game three was at Madison Square Garden in New Your City and Houston outscored the Knicks 26-18 in the first quarter to go on to a 93-89 victory to go up 2 games to 1 in the series.
Olajuwon had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets and Derek Harper led the Knicks with 21 points, John Starks added 20 and Patrick Ewing had 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Still in New York the Knicks tied up the series at two games each witha 31-21 fourth quarter run resulting in a 91-82 victory. Derek Harper with 21 and John Starks with 20 points paced the Knicks and Charles Oakley pulled down 20 rebounds and Patrick Ewing had 15.
Olajuwon led Houston with 32 points and Otis Thorpe had 10 rebounds.
The Knicks pulled ahead in the series three games to two with another win in Madison Square Garden. They again had a big fourth quarter outscoring Houston 30-23 for a 91-84 win. Ewing with 25 points and 12 rebounds, John Starks with 19 points and Anthony Mason with 17 points off the bench led New York while Olajuwon had 27 points for the Rockets and Otis Thorpe 13 rebounds.
Game six in Houston was the closet game of the series as late in the game a key steal of a Knicks pass by Hakeem Olajuwon helped Houston hold on and win 86-84, tying the series at three games each,
For Houston Olajuwon had 30 points and 10 rebounds, Otis Thorpe had 10 rebounds and Carl Herrera came off the bench to make six out of six field goals for 12 points. John Starks had 27 points for the Knicks and Patrick Ewing had 15 points and 17 rebounds while Derek Harper dished out 10 assists as the teams gotready for game seven in Houston.
The game was close throughout with Houston winning the game and their first NBA title90-84 behind another strong effort by Hakeem Olajuwon who had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Vernon Maxwell with 21 points.
Patrick Ewing led New York 17 points and 10 rebounds and Charles Oakley had 14 rebounds and Derek Harper had 23 points.
Even though the Knicks scored five more total points in the series than the Knicks, Houston pulled out the close games to win the title.
Hakeem Olajuwon won the series MVP and Houston would be back the next year to defend their title and the Knicks returned in 1999.
For Ewing and Olajuwon it wasn’t the first time they had met in a championship game as in 1984 Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas defeated Olajuwon’s University of Houston Cougars in the NCAA championship game.
Statistics for this article came from basketball-reference.com and ncaa.com and commentary from YouTube.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate