Remembering the 1993-1994 Houston Rockets championship team

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Houston Rockets’ 1994 NBA championship, Space City Home Network is broadcasting every game from the 1994 NBA Finals. Each NBC original broadcast is condensed to two hours. Game 1 of the NBA Finals was rebroadcast on Saturday, June 8 and Game 2 on Monday, June 10. The next five matches in the best-of-seven series will air through Saturday, June 22. games against the New York Knicks, the Rockets recovered to win the final two games of the series and deliver the city’s first major sports championship.

During the 1993-94 season, the Rockets had the 19th highest payroll in the league with a total payroll of $16.757 million. Two Rockets’ current annual salaries eclipse that total in 2024 — Dillon Brooks at $22.255 million and Fred VanVleet at $42.846 million.

Hakeem Olajuwon, the team’s best player and league MVP in 1994, earned $3.17 million in 1994; adjusted for inflation, this amount would be $6.698 million in current US dollars. VanVleet, signed in free agency last summer, is Houston’s highest-paid player, accounting for 30.39 percent of the team’s total cap space.

Among the team’s other key starters that year, Otis Thorpe earned a salary of $2.418 million, Kenny Smith earned $2.15 million, Vernon Maxwell earned $1.424 million, and Robert Horry earned $1.2 million. Rookie Sam Cassell, a key reserve off the bench, only made $650,000. In 2023-24, the Rockets’ top two first-round picks, Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore, earned $8.81 million and $3.218 million, respectively.

Since 1994, the NBA has entered into multiple collective bargaining agreements, with numerous milestones including rookie-scale contracts, maximum salaries, mid-level exception, luxury tax, reductions in the guaranteed share of player income, contract length and increases, and more punitive sanctions. penalties for luxury taxpaying teams. The explosion in player salaries is a direct function of the growth of the BIS.

After defending its title the following season, in 1994-1995, the franchise experienced a 29-year drought. The team won 41 games last season, a considerable improvement over the previous three years, but there is currently no player on the roster that comes close to Olajuwon’s dominance among the reigning teams. While there is plenty of optimism for the team’s young core, winning back the crown at the top will be a difficult task.