Superteam. In the NBA, the definition is often debated. It’s a team with two All-Stars. No, it’s a team with three All-Stars. Whatever the definition of the day is, a superteam is a well-crafted roster with serious star power designed to win an NBA title.
Think Golden State with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green. Then, think back to the 1990s’ Bulls. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. Ahhh, that was a superteam.
But, what about the other superteam of the ‘90s? You know, the one in Houston.
The Houston Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. Those titles were won just after Jordan’s Bulls completed their first three-peat.
The Rockets superteam was built around its two perennial All-Stars – C Hakeem Olajuwon and F Clyde Drexler. Olajuwon is considered to be one of the greatest NBA centers of all-time. Drexler was so highly regarded that Portland passed on the chance to take Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft.
Olajuwon averaged 27.8 points and 10.8 rebounds and Drexler added 21.4 and 7.0 during the 1994-95 regular season. The two were surrounded by capable role players like Robert Horry (10.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Vernon Maxwell (13.3 ppg, 4.3 apg).
Now, if that isn’t enough of a superteam, the Rockets added another superstar to the roster – Charles Barkley – before the 1996-97 season. Sure, Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley were heading toward the end of their careers but remember all three – and Jordan too – were all drafted in either 1983 or 1984.
The problem with the ’96-’97 Rockets was simply injuries. Barkley played hurt the whole season and played in only 53 games. Drexler missed time that season playing in 62 games while Olajuwon was the only one who played the majority of the season (78 games).
Still, Houston started the ’96-’97 season 21-2. They would end up the No. 3 seed in the West tied with Seattle for the second-most victories in the conference. The Rockets advanced to the conference finals where they were a handful of shots away from taking Utah to a deciding Game 7.
If Houston would have won the Western Conference finals that season, they would have been the only team not named Chicago to have advanced to three NBA Finals during the decade of the ‘90s. That might suit someone’s definition of a superteam.