|History|| San Diego Rockets |
|Team Colors||Red, White, and Silver|
|Head Coach||Jeff Van Gundy|
|Championships||2 (1994, 1995)|
|Conference Titles||4 (1981, 1986, 1994, 1995)|
|Division Titles||4 (1977, 1986, 1993, 1994)|
The San Diego Rockets, along with the Seattle SuperSonics, entered the NBA in 1967 as an expansion team. The Rockets selected Pat Riley with their first draft pick in 1967, and went on to produce a then-NBA record 67-loss season.
1968–1971: The "Big E" Coin Toss編輯
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編輯
In 1971, real estate broker Wayne Duddleston and banker Billy Goldberg bought the franchise for $5.6 million and relocated the team (which, interestingly, already had an appropriate nickname – Rockets – for a Houston-based team) from San Diego, where there was a lack of fan support (the majority of San Diego were Los Angeles Lakers fans), 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 and baseball-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編輯
Before the start of the 1971 season, Coach Alex Hannum left for the Denver Nuggets of the rival American Basketball Association. Tex Winter was hired as the new coach and a month later the team was sold and moved to Houston. Coach Winter installed his Triple-Post Offense system that contrasted with the pro-style offense that Elvin Hayes preferred. Houston traded 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. In the early spring of 1973, following the Rockets 10th straight loss, Winter was relieved of his duties.
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. From this point forward the Rockets earned respect in Houston and have been popular in the Space City since this era.
1976–77: A Savior編輯
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 Around the World編輯
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編輯
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編輯
Malone carries the Rockets to the 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 and achieving a free-throw percentage of .958 (breaking 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's playoff run began with a draw against 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 or baseball. (The Houston Oilers won the first 2 AFL championship games before the merger with the NFL, although the AFL Championship, at the time, was not widely considered a legitimate championship.) 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, and downed the Rockets in six games.
1983-86: The Twin Towers 編輯
In the 1982-83 NBA season, the Rockets fell to 14-68, the worst record in the NBA that season. But change was coming, in the first round of the NBA Draft, the Rockets drafted Ralph Sampson from the University of Virginia, and in one season the Rockets doubled their win total to 29 victories. But they weren't through: in 1984, the Rockets again wound up with the top pick in the NBA Draft and chose local product Hakeem Olajuwon from the University of Houston. With that, the Rockets' fortunes changed for the better as they won 48 games in the 1985-86 NBA season. Led by head coach Bill Fitch, the Rockets won the Western Conference Championship in five games over the Los Angeles Lakers and entered the NBA Finals for only the second time in team history, The Celtics defeated the Rockets again in the 1986 NBA Finals.
1993–94: Champions at Last編輯
With Hakeem Olajuwon as their center, the Rockets defeated the New York Knicks in seven games. After being down 3 games to 2 in the NBA Finals, the Rockets won the last two games on their home court, thanks to the misfortunes of New York's best shooter: Knicks guard John Starks missed what would have been a series-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Game 6 after the shot was blocked by Olajuwon. Starks shot 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編輯
The Rockets struggled in the first half of the 1994-95 season. In a midseason trade with Portland, the Rockets obtained star guard Clyde Drexler, who had played alongside Olajuwon at the University of Houston. The Rockets traded Otis Thorpe to obtain Drexler. Houston entered the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference and were underdogs to the 60-22 Utah Jazz in the first round, the 59-23 Phoenix Suns in the second round (who led the Rockets 3-1 before losing three straight), and the 62-20 San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals. However, Houston won all three series to reach the Finals against the Orlando Magic, whose headline players were Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. Houston swept the series in four straight games. The Rockets became the first team in NBA history to win the championship as a sixth seed. In addition, the team became the first in NBA history to beat four 50-win teams in a single postseason en route to the championship.
1996–00: Post-Championship Years編輯
After an injury riddled '95-'96 campaign, the Rockets beat the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Rockets were swept by the Seattle Supersonics in the second round. Houston's long history of playoff futility against Seattle drove the Rockets to make a dramatic trade with the Phoenix Suns that swapped Sam Cassell, Chucky Brown, Mark Bryant and Robert Horry for Charles Barkley. The resulting "Big Three" of Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley led the Rockets to a 57-25 record, with a franchise-best 27 road wins. Houston swept Minnesota in the first round and, in a heated 7 game battle, finally defeated Seattle. Ironically, the Rockets then fell in the Western Conference Finals to the Utah Jazz, a team they had beaten on their way to championships in '94 and '95. By giving up key contributors from the championship teams to obtain Barkley and beat the Sonics, the Rockets had lost their edge against the Jazz.
The '97-'98 season was also marked by injuries, and the team finished 41-41 with the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Houston once again faced the Jazz and lost the series 3-2. Drexler retired after the season and the Rockets made another bold trade to bring in Scottie Pippen to take his place in the Big Three. While Scottie continued to play good defense, he struggled to fit into Houston's offensive system, which was dominated by Barkley and Olajuwon. As a result, the Rockets often struggled. The Rockets lost to the Lakers in the first round 3-1, and during the summer Barkley and Pippen publically displayed their dislike for each other.
Throughout the post-championship years one of the Rockets main weaknesses was the point guard position. The Rockets had signed Brent Price as the answer at the 1, but he had been severely limited by injuries. That summer the Rockets attempted to both get younger and address their point guard situation by trading Price, Antoine Carr, Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, and a future first round pick to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Steve Francis and Tony Massenburg. Two months later the Rockets dealt the disgruntled Pippen to the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for Walt Williams, Stacey Augmon, Ed Gray, Carlos Rogers, Brian Shaw, and Kelvin Cato. The trade replenished the depth given up to obtain Francis from Vancouver.
Early in the 2000 season Barkley ruptured the quadriceps tendon in his left knee in a game against Philadelphia. To suffer a season (and hence career) ending injury against Philadelphia, his first NBA team, was almost surreal. When considering his career-ending injury, Barkley displayed his trademark wit by observing, "I'm just what America needs - another unemployed black man." Barkley would go on to rehab and make a token appearance towards the end of the season. With injuries to Barkley and Olajuwon, the rebuilt Rockets went 34-48 and missed the playoffs, but the future wasn't bright.
2000–03: The Struggling Years編輯
The Rockets during 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 record, and swept every Central Division team, but it still didn't cut them into the playoffs. Then the aged Hakeem Olajuwon was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2001 which left only Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley as as the head stars of the team. The following 2001-2002 season was of little success, as their team was mostly made up of rookies and journeymen. The first season without Hakeem in almost 20 years was a disappointing 28-54.
The losing season of 2001-2002 brought dishonor and a total loss of faith in the Rockets nationally and locally. The saving grace was winning the # 1 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery. The Rockets selected Chinese giant Yao Ming, a 7 foot and 6 inch Chinese center, who played for the Shanghai Sharks. The 2002-2003 basketball season marked a return to winning for the Rockets, with the trio of Yao Ming, Francis, and Mobley, and the team finishing with a record of 43-39.
2004–Present: T-Mac and Yao Era編輯
The 2003-2004 season witnessed a record of 45-37, similar to the last season, but this record earned their first playoff berth of the new millennium. However they were eliminated in a similar fate as their 1998-99 presscedors, 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 familiar teamates were traded to the Orlando Magic, but in return was Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, and many others. McGrady and Yao led 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, and during the 2005 offseason the Rockets obtained Stromile Swift, and Derek Anderson. They have also traded Mike James to the Toronto Raptors for Rafer Alston. But the 2005-2006 season was an injury-riddled one, as several key figures missed significant amounts of playing time. Bobby Sura has missed the entire season thus far due to microfracture surgery; McGrady has had to deal with physical issues (his back) and personal issues (deaths in the family, the birth of his second child) throughout the season; Yao missed 20 games to have surgery on his big toe; Alston had leg troubles, and Jon Barry was eventually released after a lengthy stay on the injured list due to a gimpy hamstring. Swift has grossly underachieved this season, leading even more people to speculate on his potential. Anderson was eventually traded to the Miami Heat for Gerald Fitch (who was waived) after he fell out of the rotation following his injury. McGrady's lingering back problems have cast doubt on his playing future. Since the All-Star break, Yao elevated his scoring and rebounding numbers to a personal zenith, however The Rockets finished the injury packed season with 34-48. with the final games a home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, 89-87. Unfortunately for the Rockets, Yao also suffered an injury, this time to his left foot in a game against the Utah Jazz. But they do have all their draft picks for the 2006 NBA Draft, while trading their original second round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks but getting the New York Knicks' pick.
Despite all the injuries, there has been some bright spots. Yao Ming's incredible scoring games are quite evident, but because of the injuries, coach Jeff van Gundy had to pull all the resources, including rookies and players from the National Basketball Development League. The Rockets called up Chuck Hayes from the NBDL. He has shown to be a good rebounder and his fellow rookie Luther Head has also shown a good deal of potential. The injuries also showed the weaknesses in the team's depth, particularly in point guard and power forward position. Also, when both Yao and McGrady play (they played in only 31 games), the record is 21-10, which in an 82 games season translates to a 56-26 record.
Players of note編輯
Current Roster (Updated March 1st, 2006)編輯
Not to be forgotten:編輯
- Charles Barkley
- Scott Brooks
- Matt Bullard
- Sam Cassell
- Mike Dunleavy
- Mario Elie
- Steve Francis
- Carl Herrera
- Buck Johnson
- Toby Kimball
- Kevin Kunnert
- Allen Leavell
- Lewis Lloyd
- Vernon Maxwell
- Rodney McCray
- Mike Newlin
- Hakeem Olajuwon
- Robert Reid
- Ralph Sampson
- Kenny Smith
- Kenny Thomas
- Otis Thorpe
- Kevin Willis
- 22 Clyde Drexler, G, 1995-98; also Houston native and University of Houston star & former head coach
- 23 Calvin Murphy, G, 1970-83 (including last season in San Diego); also Broadcaster
- 24 Moses Malone, C, 1976-82
- 34 Hakeem Olajuwon, C, 1984-2001
- 45 Rudy Tomjanovich, F, 1970-81; Head Coach, 1991-2003
- Houston Rockets official web site
- Houston Comets official web site
- Toyota Center
- Compaq Center
- ClutchFans - Your Houston Rockets Fan Information Source - unofficial fan website
- Houston Rockets official Summer Pro League web site
- The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever by John Feinstein