Skip to main content

Penny Hardaway remembers the Finals series vs. Rockets: 'We thought we were a better team'

Penny Hardaway & Houston Rockets

Penny believes they were a better team than the Rockets

After Michael Jordan retired from NBA in 1993, other teams used that as an opportunity to retake the NBA championship, and Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic were one of these squads.

The Dream took over in the NBA Finals

In a recent interview for BasketballNews, a former NBA player and starting guard for the Magic, Penny Hardaway, talked about that series. The Magic were a young and talented squad led by him and Shaquille O'Neal, and when they made it to their first-ever NBA finals, they faced the defending champs Houston Rockets led by Hakeem Olajuwon.

Even though the Rockets for coming back from a championship, most people thought the Magic would win the series, mostly because the Rockets miraculously made it to the finals. Penny felt the same way and said their confidence was unbelievable coming into that series, but the Rockets had experience and poise that was much needed for them in crunch moments.

We were so confident against the Rockets, and we just didn't finish it. I have so much respect for that Rockets team because they made every shot they needed to make when we doubled-teamed Dream. When Dream got the one-on-one, he made us paid. Horry, Cassell, Smith, Maxwell, Ellie all those guys were such great role players, they understood their roles, and they knocked down big shots. That team was really good. Once we got down and they gained confidence, it was over.

Penny Hardaway, via BasketballNews

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

The respect for the Rockets was always there

Both Shaq and Penny had great series from an individual perspective, but even their effort wasn't enough to stop the Rockets, who were on a tear after the tragically missed free throws by Nick Anderson in game 1. According to Penny, that was when the momentum completely shifted in the Rockets' favor, and there was no way the Magic would retake the lead no matter what either he or Shaq did on the court.

Even though me and Shaq both had great series, we got swept to a team we thought we were better than. One thing you need to know about the league is that when momentum hits, its over. It's like the Denver Nuggets this year with the Clippers. With us, we thought we were the better team, and once we got down and lost our momentum, they gained momentum and never looked back.

Penny Hardaway, via BasketballNews

One of the positive outcomes of this series is that Shaq saw what Hakeem did first hand to keep his team in the position to win by asserting his dominance on both ends of the floor. Penny said Shaq came with a different mindset in the following year and that experience in the finals against Hakeem helped him in winning all the championships later in his career.

Shaq, after that series, he came back the next year like 'I'm killing everything moving, I'm sparing nobody. Even though he was already that type of player, Dream just taught him how you have to be when you get to those levels and that helped Shaq win the championships he won.

Penny Hardaway, via BasketballNews

The Magic has such a great and talented team with Shaq and Penny alongside a few solid role players, and it's crazy to think they made it to the finals in only their second season playing together. Unfortunately, Shaq left after their loss to the Bulls in the ECF, and the team was no longer the same or as dominant as they once were during their 3-year-long run. Penny's career was cut short and way different after all the injuries he had. At the same time, Shaq became one of the most dominant big men in NBA history while winning multiple championships.

Does Devin Booker need Kevin Durant to lead the Suns all the way?
Play

Kevin Durant and Devin Booker in the same uniform is looking promising

As things currently stand, Kevin Durant has made Phoenix a priority. They better do the same thing.

LeBron James has more power over the Lakers organisation than Kobe Bryant ever did

LeBron James reportedly has more 'power withing the organization' than Kobe Bryant ever had

A report said LeBron James enjoys special powers within the Lakers organization that even Kobe Bryant never had

Why LeBron James didn't want to meet The Undertaker after the Cavs' season opening game in 2016/17 season

The reason why LeBron James didn't want to meet The Undertaker

The Undertaker even wore his full costume only to be snubbed by LeBron James.

Tony Parker on if he's to blame for Kawhi Leonard's departure from San Antonio

Tony Parker addresses rumors he's the reason Kawhi Leonard left the Spurs: "I’m kind of the one who passed him the torch"

Tony Parker insisted that his infamous comment about Kawhi Leonard's injury in 2017 was the reason Kawhi left he Spurs

Michael Redd on what he learned from Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant

Michael Redd reveals the other thing he learned from Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant outside basketball

Michael Redd always knew that he will be a businessman someday and he took the opportunity to learn from successful NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen

Chet Holmgren's preseason debut was one of the best ever

Greatest preseason debut ever? Chet Holmgren put on a show in his first NBA game

The second overall pick had a dazzling performance, putting up 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks, and shot 4-6 from the 3-point line.

How Michael Jordan awkwardly met one of his closest friends - 7

"Holy smokes, it's Larry Jordan"—How Michael Jordan awkwardly met one of his closest friends

Not all Michael Jordan stories involve the GOAT talking smack. Some of them involve awkward encounters, too.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson responds to Chris Broussard dissing Toronto

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson responds to Chris Broussard dissing Toronto - “Canadians love you like you grew up there… he’s tripping”

Broussard believes that playing in Toronto is different than playing in American, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who spent a season in Toronto, thinks that Broussard doesn’t know what he’s talking about