Houston Rockets

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Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets are a National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas.

Founded: 1967
Formerly known as: San Diego Rockets (1967-71)
Home Arena: Toyota Center (2003-Present)
Uniform colors: Blood Red, White, and Silver
Logo design: A gothic-style R, appearing to move upwards, with a ring around the bottom of it; one version of the logo includes "HOUSTON" at the left and "ROCKETS" at the right.
NBA Championships: 1994, 1995
Owner:Leslie Alexander

The team's former home was the Compaq Center, originally called The Summit. The Toyota Center was eventually built after the team pressured the city for a new arena.

2004-05 Record: 51-31
Contents

Franchise History

1967-1968: Beginnings in San Diego

The San Diego Rockets entered the NBA in 1967 as an expansion team in the same year the Seattle SuperSonics entered. They selected Pat Riley with their first draft pick in 1967, and proceeded to a then-NBA record 67-loss season.

1968-1971: The "Big E" coin toss

The Rockets won the coin toss versus the Baltimore Bullets, earning them the number one pick in the NBA Draft, selecting Elvin "the Big E" Hayes from the University of Houston. Hayes led the team to the franchise's first ever playoff appearance in 1969.

Move to Houston

In 1971, real estate broker Wayne Duddleston and banker Billy Goldberg bought the franchise for $5.6 million and relocated the team from San Diego, where there was a lack of fan support, to Houston, Texas, the home town of Hayes. The Rockets began playing at the Astrodome and AstroHall, both in Houston, the HemisFair Arena, in San Antonio, the Hofheinz Pavilion, on the University of Houston campus, and at Waco. However, fan support was also scarce in the football-dominated city, and the Rockets averaged less than 5000 fans per game the first season. A local legend has it that some days the local churches in Waco drew more people than the Rockets. Despite this, the team played well, acquiring two promising young players in Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich.

1972-74: Hayes traded

Houston Rockets old logo

After trading Hayes to the Baltimore Bullets for Jack Marin, the Rockets went into a rebuilding mode for the next two seasons. The lack of winning did little to capture the city's attention.

1974-76: Playoffs

With Coach John Egan's guidance and Tomjanovich, Murphy, and Mike Newlin leading the way, the Rockets made their first appearance in the playoffs since arriving in Houston. The rockets defeated the New York Knicks (with Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley, and Jerry Lucas) in the first round and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals before losing to the Boston Celtics.

1976-77: A savior

At the insistence of new coach Tom Nissalke, a trade was completed with the Buffalo Braves to acquire Moses Malone, who as a high school star made the unprecedented decision of bypassing college basketball to sign on as a professional with the Utah Stars of the ABA in 1974. The Rockets, now led by Tomjanovich, Murphy, Newlin, Malone, Kevin Kunnert, and rookie guard John Lucas, took the Central Division title. Malone, then a novice 21-year old, outbattled Wes Unseld and Hayes to help the Rockets to a playoff victory in six games against the Washington Bullets. The Rockets' hopes ended against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals on a controversial charging call against Lucas in the final moments of Game 6.

1977-78: The punch felt 'round the world

In a December 9 game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Kunnert got into a fight with the Lakers' Kermit Washington. As Tomjanovich ran over to the two, Washington turned and blindly swung his fist. The powerful blow landed squarely on the face of a running Tomjanovich, causing massive jaw, eye, and cheek injuries; Tomjanovich's skull was also fractured when his head hit the floor. That shocking scene became the defining moment of not only the Rockets' 1977-78 season (a conference finals team the previous year, collapsed into last place with a 28-54 record) but also of two basketball players' professional careers. Tomjanovich, displaying the "heart of a champion", spent the next five months in rehab returning to play as an NBA all-star.

1978-80: Malone shines, slow playoff progress

Malone receives the league's MVP Award. Malone, not exceptionally big or quick, used subtle moves, perfect positioning, and bulldog determination to become a superb center. Malone, Murphy, and Tomjanovich (who had returned to average 19.0 points) all played in the 1979 NBA All-Star Game. Rick Barry also joined the team that year as a free agent, with the Rockets sending John Lucas to Golden State Warriors as compensation. The future Hall of Famer, now in the twilight of his career, averaged a modest 13.5 points. He did set a new NBA record, however, by posting a .947 free-throw percentage for the season. He would play one more year for the Rockets before retiring in 1980.

The Rockets went 47-35 in 1978-79, Nissalke's last season as coach, finshing second in the Central Division losing two straight to Atlanta in a best-of-three first-round series.

Del Harris replaced Nissalke at the helm for the 1979-80 campaign. The Rockets finished the year at 41-41, tying the San Antonio Spurs for second place in the Central Division. After beating the Spurs, two games to one, in the first-round playoff series, they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The arrival of a third NBA team in Texas, the Dallas Mavericks, caused a reshuffling in 1980-81 that sent Houston to the Midwest Division of the Western Conference, which also included San Antonio, Kansas City, Denver, Utah, and Dallas.

1980-81: The promised land

Malone carries the Rockets to NBA finals. Murphy, the shortest player in the league, sets two NBA records, sinking 78 consecutive free throws to break Rick Barry's mark of 60 set in 1976 achieving a free-throw percentage of .958 breaking Rick Barry's record set with the Rockets in 1979. Other members of the 80-81 team were Rudy Tomjanovich, Robert Reid, Mike Dunleavy, Sr., Allen Leavell, Billy Paultz, Bill Willoughby, Calvin Garrett, Tom Henderson, and Major Jones. Houston tied with Kansas City for second place in the Midwest behind San Antonio with regular season at 40-42.

Houston playoff run began by drawing the defending NBA-champion Lakers and Magic Johnson in the first round. The Rockets upset Los Angeles, two games to one, then got past the Spurs and George Gervin, four games to three, in the western conference semifinals. This set up an unlikely conference finals matchup with Kansas City. The Kings, led by Otis Birdsong, Scott Wedman, and Phil Ford fell to the Rockets in five games. The Houston Rockets finally made it to finals, the first time a team from Houston played for a championship in basketball, football, or baseball. The championship series with Boston was fought to six games. Unfortunately, the Celtics with Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Cedric Maxwell, and Kevin McHale were too strong.

The Celtics defeated the Rockets again in the 1986 NBA Finals.

1993-94: Champions at Last!

With Hakeem Olajuwon as their center, the Rockets defeat the New York Knicks in seven games. After being down 3 games to 2 in the NBA Finals, the Rockets win the last two games on their home court, thanks to the misfortunes of New York's best shooter: Knicks guard John Starks misses what would have been a series-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Game 6 after the shot was blocked by Olajuwon, and he shoots a cold 2-for-18 from the field in Game 7, missing all six of his 3-point shot attempts.

1994-95: The Glide Comes Home

In a midseason trade with Portland, the Rockets obtain star guard Clyde Drexler, who had played alongside Olajuwon at the University of Houston. Houston struggles in the regular season, and they enter the playoffs as a sixth seed in the Western Conference. They are not expected to defeat the Utah Jazz in the first round, the Phoenix Suns in the second round, or the San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals. In fact, the Suns lead the second-round series 3 games to 1 (just as they did in the same round the year before). However, Houston comes back to win the last three games of the series, and then gets past the Spurs to reach the Finals, where they are matched up with the Orlando Magic. With Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, the Magic is expected to win the championship, but Houston sweeps the series in four straight games. Like his old friend Olajuwon did the previous year, Drexler experiences the joy of winning an NBA championship at last.

1996-00: Post-Championship years

The post championship years declined the team as Hakeem Olajuwon was aging. Some of the role players like Sam Cassell and Robert Horrywere traded for Charles Barkley from the Phoenix Suns and Matt Maloney drafted into the team in 1996. They were good, but the Utah Jazz eliminated them from the Western Conference Finals in 1997 and in the Western Conference Semifinals in 1998, dimished any chances of holding an NBA title again. Then in 1999 brought the fall of the winning team reputation they had, as Charles Barkley was injured and planned to retire after the injury, but the fall also brought some once thought new hope, Scottie Pippen was traded from the Bulls after Micheal Jordans 2nd retirement, and Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley arrived into the team that year. They got into the playoffs in 1999 with a record of 45-37 on a 7th place seed, but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round with a series of 4-1, this ended the Rockets winning years as the the years ahead would bring a series of losses and a bad reputation.

2000-02: The Struggling Years

The Rockets during the this era were a total blowout, and in return brought loss of national respect they once had, the Rockets however in the year 2000 brought a 45-37, but it still didn't cut them into the playoffs. Then the aged Hakeem Olajuwon was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2001 which only leaves Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley as their successors in being the head stars in the team, but the following 2001-2002 season was no success, as their team was moslty made up of young Rookies and bench players which made Steve and Cuttino's job of making the team a winning one more difficult. The first "Hakeem-less" season in almost 20 years was tied up at a disspointing record at 28-54.

Houston Rockets old logo

2002-Present: Yao Ming Era

The losing season of 2001-2002 brought dishonor and a total loss of faith of the Rockets nationally and locally in Houston. But then Yao Ming a tall 7 foot and 6 inches Chinese basketball player from the Shanghai Sharks decided to participate in the NBA draft of 2002, eventually he was picked and was ready for the job. People conidered him as the "New Hakeem" due to his height and the ability to shoot the ball easily, and his tough blocking defense. The 2002-2003 basketball season was a big clean up and a definite return of a winning team reputation which was lost during the turn of the century and a new "Rockets trio" (Yao Ming, Steve Francis, and Cuttino Mobley). However the season ended in a familar record of 41-38. The next 2003-2004 season was totally similar season, with another familiar record of 45-37, but the only difference was that they finally made their 21st Century playoff debut, however they were eliminated in a similar fate as their preceeding teams, being knocked out with a 4-1 record in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers. Then during the offseason the Rockets trio ended as Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley and other familar teamates were traded to the Orlando Magic, but in return was Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, and many others. McGrady and Yao let their team to their best record in 10 years, finishing the year at 51-31 and seeded 5th in the Western Conference Playoffs. Their season ended in the first round of the playoffs as they lost to their in-state rival, the Dallas Mavericks 4-3 in the Western First Round.

Players of note

Basketball Hall of Famers:

Current Roster (updated April 24, 2005)

Starters

Bench

Injured Reserve

Not to be forgotten:

Retired numbers:

External links

de:Houston Rockets fr:Rockets de Houston it:Houston Rockets ja:ヒューストン・ロケッツ he:יוסטון רוקטס pt:Houston Rockets sv:Houston Rockets zh:休斯敦火箭队

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