Michael Jordan's retirement in the mid-90s was highly unusual and extremely unprecedented for a basketball star of his caliber. For him to step away from the game at the height of his powers really drew a lot of questions at the time and, even today, there seem to be a lot of loose ends -- like what would have happened had Jordan never retired? Could they have won two more Championships between their three-peats?
There's no real way to answer that question but for former Rockets player Kenny Smith, he insists not much would have changed because the Bulls had one fatal flaw, even with Jordan.
“First of all, [Jordan] was wearing number 45, the year that they lost,” Smith said, via Ben Dubose of USA TODAY SPORTS. “And he was actually in the league. People forget that. But they (Bulls) were just too small. No Horace Grant. He was in Orlando. Dennis Rodman was still in San Antonio. That’s why they lost to Orlando Magic.
“We would’ve done the same thing. The team that they lost to 4-2, we swept. It wasn’t Jordan wasn’t the best player. That wasn’t the best team. So if they didn’t keep Horace Grant or they didn’t get a Dennis Rodman with Michael, they would’ve been too small on the inside. I don’t think they would’ve won eight straight.”
So, the Rockets won back-to-back titles in '94 and '95, the two years that included Jordan's short stint away from the game. MJ technically played that second season, though he missed more than half of the regular-season games.
Many claims that had he not taken that break, the Bulls would've won both those Championships because, well, Jordan was unstoppable.
According to Kenny, though, Chicago's lack of size would have made them a poor matchup against Houston, who were being led by Hakeem "the Dream" Olajuwon, who averaged 22.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game on 51% shooting during his tenure with the Rockets.
Considering the Bulls and Rockets were never able to meet in the postseason, there's no real evidence to support either case. All we have to go by is the testimony of the players who played then.
Either way, the Rockets were able to secure titles and nobody is going to take that way from them.