Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The Rockets compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its home games at the Toyota Center, located in downtown Houston. The Rockets have won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. The team has been established in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets, a growth team originally based in San Diego. Back in 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston.
The Rockets won only 15 games in their debut season for a franchise in 1967. From the 1968 NBA draft, the Rockets were given the first overall choice and selected power forward Elvin Hayes, who would direct the team to its first playoff appearance in his rookie season. The Rockets did not complete a season with a winning record for nearly a decade until the 1976–77 year, even when they exchanged for All-Star heart Moses Malone. Malone went on to win the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award twice while playing the Rockets and led Houston into the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year with the team. Throughout the 1980–81 year, the Rockets ended the regular season with a 40–42 record. Despite their losing record, they qualified for the playoffs. Led by Malone, the Rockets stunned the entire league by creating their first NBA Finals appearance in 1981, becoming just the second team in NBA history to make the NBA Finals with a missing record. They would drop in six matches into the 62–20 Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and potential Rockets‘ head coach Kevin McHale. As of 2019, the 1980–81 Rockets are the last group as the 1954–55 Minneapolis Lakers to make it all the way into the NBA Finals with a losing record.
At the 1984 NBA draft, once more using the first overall selection, the Rockets drafted center Hakeem Olajuwon, who’d become the cornerstone of the very successful period in franchise history. Paired with 7 feet 4 inches (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson, they formed one of the greatest leading courts in the NBA. Nicknamed the“Twin Towers“, they led the group into the 1986 NBA Finals–the second NBA Finals appearance in franchise history–where Houston was again defeated by Larry Bird and the 67-win Boston Celtics. The Celtics continued to reach the playoffs throughout the 1980s, but failed to progress beyond the first round for many years after a second round defeat to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1987. Rudy Tomjanovich took over as head coach midway through the 1991–92 season, ushering in the most successful period in franchise history. Directed by Olajuwon, the Rockets dominated the 1993–94 season, setting a franchise record 58 wins and moved into the 1994 NBA Finals–the next NBA Finals appearance in franchise history–and won the franchise’s first championship against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. During the next season, reinforced by yet another All-Star, Clyde Drexler, the Rockets–within their NBA Finals appearance in franchise history–repeated as winners with a four-game sweep of the Orlando Magic, who were headed by a youthful Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway. Houston, which finished the season with a 47–35 record and was sixth in the Western Conference during the 1995 playoffs, became the lowest-seeded group in NBA history to win the title.
The Rockets acquired all-star forward Charles Barkley in 1996, but the existence of all of the NBA’s 50 greatest players of all-time (Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley) wasn’t enough to propel Houston beyond the Western Conference Finals. Every one of the aging trio had left the group by 2001. The Rockets of the early 2000s, led by superstars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, followed the trend of consistent regular season respectability followed by playoff underachievement as both players struggled with injuries. After Yao’s early retirement in 2011, the Rockets entered a period of rebuilding, completely dismantling and retooling their roster. The purchase of franchise player James Harden in 2012 has launched the Rockets back into championship contention in the mid-2010s.
Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and James Harden have been called the NBA’s Most Valuable Player while playing for the Rockets, for a total of four MVP awards. The Rockets, under general director Daryl Morey, are notable for popularizing the use of complex statistical analytics (like sabermetrics in baseball) in player acquisitions and kind of play.
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