Warner Bros. // 1994 // 802 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // January 4th, 2007
Blast off to clutch city!
Let's all be honest for a second. Without complete disrespect to the people of Houston, what else do people remember about the 1994 NBA Finals? Yes, you guessed it, the infamous white bronco chase with O.J. Simpson, the Los Angeles police, and the guy who drove the Juice around, I forget his name...
In all seriousness, though, the 1994 finals were a chance to see how two of the greatest centers in pro basketball history would fare against each other in their professional careers, both of whom were longing for championship glory. In the New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing, you had the most excellent player on a long-suffering team since the days of Willis Reed. In the Houston Rockets, you had Hakeem Olajuwon, the gentle Nigerian giant. The two played each other in college in the mid 1980s, when Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas got the better of Olajuwon's Houston Cougars, due in part to the supporting cast around Ewing.
Flash forward to June 8, 1994 and Game 1 of the finals, where the Rockets defeated the Knicks at home, due in part to Houston's shooting from the field (42 percent compared to the Knicks' 34 percent), not to mention 28 points and 10 rebounds from Olajuwon. Game 2 saw another solid effort from Olajuwon (25 and 7 this time around), but Houston's shooting was subpar, and the Knicks evened the series at one game apiece. A hard fought Game 3 moved to Madison Square Garden and was won by the Rockets, and in Game 4, the Knicks evened the series back up with scoring in double figures by all of the starters.
Then you have the fateful Game 5. Ewing scored 25, had 12 rebounds and 8 blocked shots, and John Starks had 19 points, and Anthony Mason came off the bench to score 17 points with 9 rebounds. The final score was 91-84 Knicks for a commanding lead of three games to two in the series, but everyone else was more concerned about the events going on in California at that time. I remember eating my dinner as fast as I could, so I could see the culmination of the events. Game 6 saw the rise of Starks, as he scored 27 points, but Olajuwon overshadowed him with 30 points and 10 rebounds for a Houston win to even things up yet again for the decisive Game 7, which saw the fall of the Knicks' shooting guard, as he made 2 of only 18 shots, while the Rockets had 25 points from Hakeem "The Dream" and another 21 points from Vernon Maxwell, as Houston won their first of two NBA championships.
The Warner Brothers boxed set that shows this series off with its original television feed with the dulcet tones of Marv Albert (who did play by play work for the Knicks when not on NBC) emenating. Now, for the important question, is the car chase (and discussion of it) included on Game 5? Sorry, no, all the commercials, and Bob Costas' analysis and bizarre sort of in-event comments on the low speed chase are all omitted, but the games are still preserved in their strict buzzer to buzzer integrity. There's even a recap of the Rockets' Championship season from beginning to its glorious end that serves as the eighth and final disc in this collection.
Overall, while this series never really impressed me (if for nothing else the O.J. chase and the World Cup were how I remembered 1994 in sports), what excites me about Warner's intentions is the potential that they might start releasing some of the more talked about championship series in previous eras (like the Magic-Bird rivalries of the '80s), similar to what Major League Baseball is doing with some of their video library now. So based on the premise, I would say that unless you're a fan of the Houston basketball franchise, hold off on this set and lobby hard for any championship final involving the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, or Pistons.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 802 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* NBA Official Site
* Rockets Official Site