Life without sports has been rough, especially for a guy like me. Sports have been my whole life essentially. I played sports, I covered sports for the school newspaper in college and I even worked in the sports industry for a couple of years after graduating college.
Earlier this week, I was inspired to write a piece about what was going on in sports the year that I was born: 1995. There was definitely a lot going on in the sports world and I wish that I was able to see it with my own two eyes.
Let us take a look at what took place in the sports world in 1995. We are going to look at the NBA Finals champs, the Super Bowl Champs, the World Series champs and much more.
NBA Finals in 1995
The Houston Rockets won their second consecutive title against the Orlando Magic in 1995. This Rockets team was the first team in NBA history to beat four 50-win teams en route to a championship. The series was a much-anticipated series and the hype was mostly around the star centers, Hakeem Olajuwon of the Rockets and Shaquille O’Neal of the Magic. The series was a sweep, but all four games were close. Hakeem Olajuwon was named the MVP of the series.
Where Are the Rockets Now?
Fast forward to the year 2020 and the Rockets are still a contending team in the Western Conference. Ever since the team acquired James Harden, they have not missed the playoffs once. Unfortunately for them, they have not been back to finals since 1995.
Before the suspension of the NBA season, the Rockets had a record of 40-24 and were a 6-seed in the Western Conference. James Harden was doing what he does and Russell Westbrook, acquired this season, was playing some of his best basketball this season. Given that the season resumes, you can’t count out the Rockets in the playoffs.
NFL Super Bowl XXIX
The San Francisco 49ers took home the Lombardi Trophy in 1995 after they defeated the San Diego Chargers by a score of 49-26.
This was the first time in the Super Bowl that both teams put up points in all four quarters. The combined point total of 75 and the total touchdown count of 10 are both Super Bowl records to this day.
Steve Young made a name for himself and leaped out of the shadow of Joe Montana with his performance in this game. He threw a Super Bowl record of six touchdown passes and completed 24 out of 36 passes for 325. He was named Super Bowl MVP.
Where Are the 49ers Now?
The 49ers found themselves back in the Super Bowl this past season in Miami, the same location of the 1995 Super Bowl. Unfortunately, fate was not on their side as they blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jimmy G is no Steve Young and they do not have a receiver as good as Jerry Rice. However, the 49ers are back to their winning ways thanks to John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan inheriting a dumpster fire of an organization and turning into a respectable franchise. They lost key players on both side of the ball this off-season (defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders) but remain the team to beat in the NFC and will hope to get back to the Super Bowl this season.
1995 MLB World Series
“The Team of the 90’s.” The Atlanta Braves won their third title in franchise history in 1995 against the Cleveland Indians, defeating them 4-2. The Braves became the first team to win at least one crown in three different cities (1914 in Boston and 1957 in Milwaukee.) This was Cleveland’s first World Series Appearance. Braves pitcher Tom Glavine was named World Series MVP.
This was the first time since the League Championship series changed to a best-of-seven format that a winner of that series made it to the World Series by sweeping their opponent in the LCS, which the Braves did. That has only been done once more and it was by the Washington Nationals, the 2019 Champions.
Where Are the Braves Now?
With the 2020 season currently postponed, the Braves currently do not have the opportunity to build on the season that they had in 2019. The Braves finished with a NL East record best of 97-65 before ultimately losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs this season.
They have a star in Ronald Acuna Jr. who hit 41 home runs, drove in 127 runs (leading the National League) and stole 37 bases, just missing the 40-40 club. They also have all stars in Freddie Freeman and Mike Sokora. They will be in good hands.
We have looked at the champions of the NBA, NFL and MLB in the year 1995, now let’s take a look at some of the events that took place that I wish social media was around for.
While retired from the NBA, MJ started showing up to Bulls practices again when there was a strike going on in the MLB. Of course, that led to speculation as to whether or not he would be coming out of his 17-month retirement and returning to play basketball for the Chicago Bulls.
On March 18, 1995 by use of a simple fax machine, MJ announced his return to the world in two simple words, “I’m back.”
In just his fifth game back on March 28, 1995 in the Madison Square Garden, Jordan scored 55 points in a win over the Knicks.
Was he officially back?
Unfortunately, his return was spoiled in the second round of the playoffs thanks to the Orlando Magic, who defeated the Bulls 4-2.
The players strike concluded in 1995 and the first game was played April 25 where the Florida Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers face off. The beginning of the season was a train wreck. Television ratings stunk, attendance at games was extremely low and replacement umpires were being used.
There were some great moments during the 1995 season, however. Iron Man Cal Ripken set the record for most consecutive games played with a total of 2,131 games played. This is a record that won’t be broken…ever, at least I don’t think so.
The California Angels blew a 13-game lead to the Seattle Mariners, who then beat them in a one game playoff. Seattle would then move on to beat the Yankees in a five-game series, giving Seattle their first ever playoff series win.
“If the Glove Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit”
This is it right here. This is the story that would have broken all social media platforms. The OJ Simpson trial. This was the biggest story of the year, sports or otherwise. The first man to rush for 2,000 NFL yards in a season was on trial for the murder of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, OJ’s wife.
His legal team is what we consider a super team in sports: Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro and Robert Kardashian (yes, Kim and Kourtney’s dad).
The most memorable moment of this trial was when Cochran convincing the prosecution to have OJ try on the glove that tested positive for Ronald Goldman’s blood. OJ had trouble putting the glove on which led to the famous line, “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
And that is exactly what happened, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
Can you imagine what Twitter would have been like if it were around for all of this? It would have been on fire. Memes, controversial opinions, think pieces and much more. It would have been crazy.
War on the Floor
One month after the NBA Finals, Shaq challenged Hakeem to a one-on-one battle in a USA TODAY ad. “The series may be a done deal, but it ain’t over between you and me. Sure, you’re pretty good with your team behind you, but I want you one on one,” was the exact quote.
In September, both Hakeem and Shaq were set to be leading men in a pay-per-view blockbuster that would include a number of NBA stars playing one-on-one.
Shaq, ringless at the time, felt like he had something to prove to the world. He felt as if no one could guard him one-on-one.
Leonard Armato, both Shaq and Hakeem’s agent, signed Spike Lee to make his clients household names. Spike Lee would go on to direct a national TV commercial campaign for Taco Bell.
Armato would then launch a TV campaign hyping this whole thing up. Other NBA players were signed, and a venue was booked. Where was the venue booked? At Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
The pay-per-view price was set at $19.95 (in today’s NBA, this would be much more expensive.)
The evening before the event, it was discovered that Hakeem was injured, and the event would ultimately be canceled.
This would have been a hell of an event. Ratings would be through the roof and it would have been fun to watch, especially for $19.95. Maybe one day something like this can happen.
Other Significant Moments in 1995
- March 4, 1995- George Foreman, who came back from retirement and became the oldest fighter, at 45, to win the World Heavyweight Championship loses his belt after refusing to fight Tony Tucker.
- March 25, 1995- Mike Tyson is released from prison after serving three years for rape. He would make his return to the ring on August 19, 1995 against Peter McNeely in which he won via disquaification, in 89 seconds.
- April 18, 1995- Joe Montana announced his retirement from football
A hell of a year in sports, wasn’t it?
There are other sporting events and sports stories that are worthy of attention that I did not mention. However, as stated earlier, these are the moments that I wish were during the social media era because it would have been pure entertainment.
Closing note: shout out to everyone that was born in 1995 and shout out to all the sports junkies out there struggling without sports on TV.