In only their fifth game of 1994-95 season, on November 11th 1994, Boston Celtics faced 1994 NBA Champions Houston Rockets, which featured the most dominating NBA frontline of that time, with Hakeem Olajuwon being the ‘Tzar’ in the middle, and Otis Thorpe and Robert Horry smoothly operating from the wing positions.
The Celtics power forward of Dino Radja opened his NBA career in a great fashion, finishing off his rookie campaign (1993-94 season) with 15.1 points and 7.2 boards per game, which earned him the selection to 1994 NBA All-Rookie 2nd team, alongside with his European teammate (and soulmate) Toni Kukoc, guards Nick Van Exel and Lindsey Hunter and center Shawn Bradley.
Olajuwon wasn’t directly matched with Radja, who played the power forward spot for Celtics, and was mostly matched with Thorpe and Horry. But, ‘The Dream’ would occasionally came to help to his frontline teammates who, at moments, were overpowered by 6’11’ C’s power forward.
Radja would have his way against Thorpe, either sticking a mid-range jumper over him or positioning him closer to basket with his famous post-up moves who were to many reminiscent to those of the Celtics’ legendary power forward Kevin McHale, whom Radja replaced on the roster in 1993.
Having his way with outmatched Acie Earl and Eric Montross ‘The Dream’ scored 26 points, collected 14 boards and 3 rejections, showing everyone in the building why he earned his 1994 NBA MVP trophy.
Celtics lost this one in the Boston Garden by 20 and went 0-3 for the season, but Radja shined in this one scoring season-high 31 points (on 15-31 shooting), to go along with 11 boards and 2 rejections.
For the 1994-95 season ‘Croatian Sensation’ averaged 17.2 points, 8.7 boards and 1.3 rejections, providing the major inside force for a team which will qualify for the 1995 NBA postseason, only to lose to the Eastern Conference champion, Orlando Magic led by superstar Shaquille O’Neal.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor and the co-author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic. He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, currently working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.