The Houston Rockets play basketball in Houston, Texas, where they compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They are members of the Southwest Division of the league's Western Conference. The Rockets play their home games at Toyota Center, located in downtown Houston. The Rockets have won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. The team was established in 1967 and played in San Diego, California, as the San Diego Rockets, before moving to Houston in 1971. The name Rockets was thought appropriate to San Diego, known as the City in Motion and even more so after the move to Houston, given that city’s long association with the space industry.
The Rockets experienced a slow start, winning only 15 games in their first season but reached the playoffs in 1969 and the conference finals in 1977. They nearly carried off the ultimate prize in 1981 when they reached the NBA Finals but were defeated by the Boston Celtics in six games. The same disappointment, a defeat by the Celtics, occurred five years later in 1986.
The Rockets continued to reach the playoffs throughout the 1980s, but failed to advance past the second round for the rest of the decade. With a new head coach installed midway through the 1991–92 season, a change in the team’s fortunes started the most successful period in franchise history. In the 1994 NBA Finals, the team at last won a first championship against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. This feat was repeated a year later beating the favorites Orlando Magic. Houston became the lowest-seeded team in NBA history to win the title. It can be fairly said that the current team, in an exciting period of rebuilding and reassessment, is striving to recapture the successes of the mid-90s.
Let’s look through the years at some of the great players who have helped the Rockets to fire. Hakeem Olajuwon spent 17 seasons with the Rockets and was a member of both championship teams of the 90s. Hakeem was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008 after averaging 25.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game in Houston. He even had an offensive move named after him!
Moses Malone was a Rocket from 1976-1982 who averaged 23.7 points in six seasons with the Rockets. He also averaged a ridiculous 15 rebounds per game in Houston.
Elvin Hayes was an amazingly reliable player who throughout his stay with the Rockets of seven full years only missed two games. He averaged an astounding 20.5 points and 12.2 rebounds per game.
Calvin Murphy played his entire 13-year career with the Rockets and is recognized accordingly as one of the best in franchise history.
Clyde Drexler is one of the most talented players in NBA history and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2004. During three-plus years in Houston, he averaged 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
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