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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets logo
Information
Conference Western Conference NBA Western Conference
Division Southwest Division
Founded 1967
History San Diego Rockets
1967–1971
Houston Rockets
1971–present
Arena Toyota Center
City Houston, Texas
Team Colors Red, Black, Silver
              
Media
Owner(s) Tilman Fertitta
General Manager Daryl Morey
Head Coach Mike D'Antoni
Uniform Sponsor ROKiT Phones
D-League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Championships
NBA NBA Championship logo 2 (1994, 1995)
Conference Conference Championship logo 4 (1981, 1986, 1994, 1995)
Division 7 (1977, 1986, 1993, 1994, 2015, 2018, 2019)
Other
Retired numbers 7 (11, 22, 23, 24, 34, 45, CD)
Official Website rockets.com
Uniforms
Houston Rockets Home Uniform Houston Rockets Road Uniform Houston Rockets alternate uniform
Home court
Houston Rockets court logo

The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The Rockets are a member of and play in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference 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 was established as the San Diego Rockets, an expansion team originally based in San Diego, in 1967. In 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston.

The Rockets won only 15 games in their debut season as a franchise in 1967. In the 1968 NBA draft, the Rockets, picking first overall, selected power forward Elvin Hayes, who would lead the team to its first playoff appearance in his rookie season. The Rockets did not finish a season with a winning record until the 1976-77 season, when they traded for center Moses Malone. Malone went on to win the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award twice and led Houston to the conference finals in his first year with the team. He also led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981 where they were defeated in six games by the Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird and future Rockets coach Kevin McHale.

In 1984, the Rockets drafted center Hakeem Olajuwon, who would be paired with 7 feet 4 inches (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson, forming one of the tallest front courts in the NBA. Nicknamed the "Twin Towers", they led the team to the 1986 NBA Finals—the second NBA Finals appearance in franchise history—where Houston was again defeated by the Boston Celtics. The Rockets continued to reach the playoffs throughout the 1980s, but failed to advance past the first round for several years following 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. Olajuwon-led Rockets went to the 1994 NBA Finals and won franchise's first championship against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. The following season, the Rockets reinforced by another All-Star, Clyde Drexler, repeated as champions as the sixth seed in the West and swept the Orlando Magic, led by a young Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, in four games. Houston became the lowest-seeded team in NBA history to win the title.

The Rockets acquired all-star forward Charles Barkley in 1996, but the presence of three of the NBA's 50 greatest players of all-time (Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley) was not enough to propel Houston past the Western Conference Finals. Each one of the aging trio had left the team by 2001, and the Rockets of the early 21st century, 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 acquisition of franchise player James Harden in 2012 has launched the Rockets back into championship contention in the mid-2010s. The Rockets, under general manager Daryl Morey, are notable for popularizing the use of advanced statistical analytics (similar to sabermetrics in baseball) in player acquisitions and style of play.

Franchise History

The Rockets, along with the Seattle SuperSonics, entered the NBA in 1967 as an expansion team based in San Diego. They selected Pat Riley with their first draft pick in 1967. They went on to produce a then-NBA record 67-loss season.

1967–1971: San Diego Rockets

San Diego Rockets logo

San Diego Rockets logo 1967–1971.

In 1968, the Rockets won the coin toss versus the Baltimore Bullets, giving them the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. They selected Elvin "the Big E" Hayes from the University of Houston. Hayes led the team to the franchise's first ever playoff appearance in 1969. The Rockets lost in the Western divisional semifinal to the Atlanta Hawks two games to four in a best-of-seven series.

The 1970 NBA Draft brought Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich to the Rockets - both significant to the franchise after their playing careers were over.

Coached by Jack McMahon and Alex Hannum, the Rockets tallied a 119-209 record over their tenure in San Diego.

1971–1976: Move to Houston and improvement with Murphy and Rudy-T

72

Houston Rockets logo used in the team's 1971–72 inaugural season in 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 fans were more disposed to the Los Angeles Lakers than the Rockets. The Rockets originally had been named for San Diego slogan, "A City in Motion," but with the move to Houston their name took on even greater relevance. Houston is home to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and Mission Control, which received national attention during Project Apollo.

The Rockets began playing at various venues in Houston, including the Astrodome, AstroHall, and Hofheinz Pavilion. They also played games at HemisFair Arena in San Antonio, Texas and in Waco, Texas. However, fan support was weak in the football and baseball-dominated city, and the Rockets averaged less than 5,000 fans per game during their first Houston season. It was mused that the local churches in Waco drew more attendance than the Rockets.

Before the start of the 1971 season, Coach Alex Hannum left for the Denver Nuggets of the American Basketball Association. Tex Winter was hired as the new coach shortly before the team was sold. Coach Winter applied a triple-post offensive system that contrasted with the offensive style to which Hayes was accustomed. Houston soon traded Hayes to the Baltimore Bullets for Jack Marin. Lack of success did little to capture the city's attention, and in the Spring of 1973, following the Rockets 10th straight loss, Winter was relieved of his duties.

In 1975, with Coach Johnny 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 (led by Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe) in the first round, but lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

1976–1982: The Moses Malone era

Houston Rockets logo 1972–1995.

Houston Rockets logo 1972–1995.

At the start of the 1977 season, the Rockets negotiated a trade 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 defeated the Washington Bullets in the 1977 Eastern Conference semifinal, but lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference Finals. Malone made an impressive showing against Washington's Elvin Hayes and waning star Wes Unseld.

On December 9, 1977, in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Kunnert got into a fight with the Lakers' Kermit Washington. As Tomjanovich approached the altercation, Washington turned and threw a punch, landing squarely in the face of a running Tomjanovich, causing extensive structural cranial, as well as spinal, trauma to Tomjanovich. That shocking scene became the defining moment of the Rockets' 1977-78 season as well as the playing careers of Tomjanovich and Washington. Tomjanovich spent the next five months in rehab and returned to appear in the 1978 All-Star Game.

Malone received the 1979 MVP Award. Not exceptionally big or quick, he used footwork and positioning to become a successful center in the NBA. Malone, Murphy, and Tomjanovich all played in the 1979 NBA All-Star Game. Rick Barry was signed for the 1979 season from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for John Lucas. 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 as coach 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.

In 1981, the arrival of a third NBA team in Texas, the Dallas Mavericks, caused the NBA to restructure the conferences and sent Houston to the Midwest Division of the Western Conference, which also included San Antonio, Kansas City, Denver, Utah, and Dallas. Houston tied with Kansas City for second place in the Midwest Division behind San Antonio with a 40-42 record, barely qualifying for the playoffs.

Houston's playoff run began with a draw with the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. The Rockets upset Los Angeles two games to one, then defeated George Gervin's Spurs four games to three in the Western Conference semifinals. This resulted in 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 championship series with Boston lasted six games with Boston claiming the championship.

During the season, Murphy, the shortest player in the league, set 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, Moses Malone, Robert Reid, Mike Dunleavy, Sr., Allen Leavell, Billy Paultz, Bill Willoughby, Calvin Garrett, Tom Henderson and Major Jones.

In the 1982-83 NBA season, the Rockets fell to a league worst 14-68. In an attempt to improve the franchise's performance, Bill Fitch was hired as coach to replace Del Harris, and with the first pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, the Rockets selected Ralph Sampson from the University of Virginia. The following season was a marked improvement on the previous year.

While new owner Charlie Thomas expressed interest in renewing with Moses Malone, who had been again chosen as MVP in 1981–82, the Rockets traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for Caldwell Jones, as a declining regional economy made the Rockets unable to pay Malone's salary. When the Rockets finished a league worst 14–68, Celtics coach Bill Fitch was hired to replace outgoing Del Harris, and the team won the first pick of the 1983 NBA draft, used to select Ralph Sampson from the University of Virginia. Sampson had good numbers and was awarded the NBA Rookie of the Year award, but the Rockets still finished last overall, again getting the top pick at the upcoming 1984 NBA draft.

1984–2001: The Hakeem Olajuwon era

1984–1987: The "Twin Towers"

Hakeem Olajuwon

The Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon first in the 1984 NBA draft.

With the first pick of the 1984 NBA draft the Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon from the University of Houston. In his first season, Olajuwon finished second to Michael Jordan in NBA Rookie of the Year balloting, and the Rockets record improved by 19 games, good enough for a return to the playoffs as the third best team in the West, where they were upset by the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz. The duo of Olajuwon and Sampson earned much praise, and was nicknamed "Twin Towers". In the following season, Houston won the Midwest Division title with a 51–31 record. The subsequent playoffs had the Rockets sweeping the Sacramento Kings, having a hard-fought six-game series with Alex English's Denver Nuggets. The Rockets then won the Western Conference Finals in five games over the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and competed in the NBA Finals for only the second time in team history, facing the Boston Celtics in a rematch of the 1981 NBA Finals. However, the Celtics once again defeated the Rockets in six games.

After the Finals, Boston coach K. C. Jones called the Rockets "the new monsters on the block" feeling they had a bright future. But the team had a poor start to the following season, followed by nearly a decade of underachievement and failure, amidst players getting injured or suspended for cocaine usage, and during the playoffs were defeated in the second round by the Seattle SuperSonics in six games, with the final game being a double-overtime classic that saw Olajuwon notching 49 points, 25 rebounds and 6 blocks in defeat. Early in the 1987–88 season, Sampson, who had signed a new contract, was traded to the Golden State Warriors, bringing the Twin Towers era to an end just 18 months after their Finals appearance. Sampson's once-promising career was shortened due to chronic knee injuries, which forced his retirement in 1991. Jones' prophecy of a Rockets dynasty never materialized until the early 1990s.

1987–1992: Lean years

In the next five seasons, the Rockets either failed to qualify for the playoffs or were eliminated in the first round. The first elimination in 1988 led to Fitch's dismissal, with Don Chaney replacing him as head coach. Chaney, like Olajuwon, also played for the Houston Cougars under Guy Lewis, having played along Elvin Hayes in the late 1960s. Chaney had his best season during 1990–91, where he was named the Coach of the Year after leading the Rockets to a 52-30 record despite Olajuwon's absence due to injury for 25 games. Despite Olajuwon's usual strong numbers, the underwhelming roster could not be lifted out of mediocrity. However, the attempts to rebuild the team nucleus incorporated players that would later make an impact in the years to come, such as Kenny Smith, Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry, Mario Elie, Sam Cassell and Otis Thorpe.

Midway through the 1991–92 season, with the Rockets' record only 26–26, Chaney was fired and replaced by his assistant Rudy Tomjanovich, a former Houston player himself. While the Rockets did not make the playoffs, Tomjanovich's arrival was considered a step forward. In the next year, the Rockets improved their record by 13 games, getting the Midwest Division title, and winning their first playoff series in 6 years by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers, before an elimination by the Seattle SuperSonics in a closely contested Game 7 overtime loss.

1994–1995: "Clutch City" and Back-to-Back NBA Championships

With head coach Rudy Tomjanovich in his second full year, the Rockets began the 1993-94 season with an NBA record start of 15-0. With Hakeem Olajuwon as their center, the Rockets won 58 games, a franchise record at the time. After quickly dispatching the Portland Trail Blazers (who had made the NBA Finals just two years prior) in 4 games, they then faced the defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns, led by the previous year's MVP Charles Barkley. The series opened up in Houston, which saw the Rockets open up a big lead going into the fourth quarter. In both games, however, the Rockets inexplicably collapsed to allow the Suns a 2–0 lead going back to Phoenix. Following recent heart-breaking playoff losses by the Houston Oilers, it appeared as though the Rockets were doomed. Local newspapers labeled Houston as "Choke City", which the Rockets took to heart and ultimately came back to win the series in seven games. As "Choke City" became "Clutch City", the name permanently became a part of Houston folklore. The Rockets then soon defeated John Stockton and Karl Malone's Utah Jazz in five in the Conference Finals to advance to their third NBA Finals, where they faced the New York Knicks. After being down three games to two in the NBA Finals, the Rockets won the last two games on their home court, thanks to the misfortunes of New York's go-to shooting guard, John Starks. 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 dismal 2-for-18 from the field in Game 7, missing all six of his 3-point shot attempts, as the Rockets defeated the Knicks in seven games to win their first NBA championship in franchise history.

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, in exchange for Otis Thorpe. Houston entered the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference and were underdogs against 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. In the fifth game of the San Antonio series, Olajuwon gave a career performance. After a pregame MVP award ceremony honoring David Robinson, Olajuwon dominated the game, outscoring Robinson 42-22 in a Rockets win. Houston won all three series to reach the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic, whose headline players were Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. Houston swept the series in four straight games to win their second consecutive NBA championship. 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.

1995–2001: Post-championship and Rebuilding

Houston Rockets logo 1995–03

Houston Rockets logo 1995–2003.

After an injury riddled 1995-96 campaign, the Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the first round of the playoffs, but 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 the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round and, in a heated 7 game battle, finally defeated the Seattle SuperSonics. However, the Rockets then fell in the Western Conference Finals to the Utah Jazz, a team they had beaten on their way to championships in 1994 and 1995, as Jazz point guard John Stockton hit the series-clinching 3-pointer in Game 6 to advance to their first NBA Finals, where they would go on to lose to the Chicago Bulls in six games. 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 1997-98 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 in five games. 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 Los Angeles Lakers in the first round in four games, and during the summer Barkley and Pippen publicly 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 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 the Vancouver Grizzlies, who refused to play for the franchise that drafted him.

Early in the 2000 season, Barkley ruptured the quadriceps tendon in his left knee in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. 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.

In 2001, the Rockets worked their way to a 45-37 record and swept every Central Division team, but still didn't make the playoffs. An older, waning Olajuwon was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2001 which left Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley to fill leadership roles. The following season was unremarkable, as the team was mostly made up of rookies and journeymen. Injuries to star player Steve Francis forced him to miss many games. The first season without Hakeem in almost 20 years was a disappointing 28-54.

2001–2009: The Yao Ming era

Houston Rockets Primary Logo

Houston Rockets logo 2003–2018.

The abysmal 2002 season had its silver lining, as the Rockets were awarded the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. The Rockets selected Yao Ming, a 7 foot and 6 inch Chinese center, who played for the Shanghai Sharks. The 2002-03 NBA season saw marked improvement for the Rockets, with the trio of Yao, Francis, and Mobley leading the team to a 43-39 record.

With a 2003-2004 regular season record of 45-37, the Rockets earned their first playoff berth since their first round exit to the Lakers in 1999. However, the Lakers again handed the Rockets another loss in the first round. The offseason saw major changes in the roster and dynamic of the team as Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato were traded to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines.

McGrady and Yao led the Rockets to their best record in 10 years, finishing 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 four games to three. During the 2005 offseason the Rockets obtained Stromile Swift, and Derek Anderson. They also traded Mike James to the Toronto for Rafer Alston.

Injuries plagued the 2006 season. Bob Sura had surgery on his knee the summer prior, Tracy McGrady fought an injured back throughout the season, Yao Ming required surgery to treat an infection in his toe, and David Wesley even fractured a rib falling into a courtside cameraman near the end of the season. With rare appearances of both Yao and McGrady on the court at the same time, the Rockets floundered. When the roster was relatively complete the team was much more successful, but Jeff Van Gundy and his team frequently expressed the need to play beyond injuries and to not use bad luck as an excuse for losing. By the end of the season, the Rockets lead the league in most games missed by each player on the roster. The team finished with a 38-44 record.

The Rockets drafted Rudy Gay from the University of Connecticut with the 8th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Gay was dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies along with Stromile Swift in exchange for Shane Battier. Many fans were upset at losing the young prospect in Gay, but many were also excited to acquire the acclaimed work ethic and team orientation of Battier. The Rockets also acquired Kirk Snyder from the New Orleans Hornets for cash consideration, and an exchange of 2nd round draft picks. They also signed Vassilis Spanoulis, a 2004 draft pick from Greece, Steve Novak a 2006 second round draft pick from Marquette University, and summer league stand-out John Lucas III.

The Rockets have made links with Arsenal F.C., in that there are many fans of both sides. This has mainly resulted due to the rivalry with San Antonio Spurs and Tottenham Hotspurs respectively.

Rockets in the 15 to 16 draft they drafted Sam Dekker as no. 18th pick and Montrezl Harrell as no.32.

The scoring champion McGrady and the strong rebounder Yao formed a well-regarded pair that helped the Rockets win 22 consecutive games in the 2007–08 season, which was at the time the 3rd longest winning streak in NBA history. Still, the duo was plagued with injuries – of the 463 regular season games for which they were teammates, Yao missed 146 and McGrady 160 – and did not win any playoff series, despite gathering leads over the Dallas Mavericks in 2005 and the Jazz in 2007. After the 2007 elimination, Van Gundy was fired, and the Rockets hired Rick Adelman to replace him.

For the 2008–09 season, the Rockets signed forward Ron Artest. While McGrady wound up playing only half the games before enduring a season-ending microfracture surgery,[105] the Rockets ended the season 53–29, enough for the Western Conference's fifth seed. During the playoffs, the Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers four games to two, winning their first playoff round since 1997. During the series, Dikembe Mutombo injured his knee, which forced him to retire after 18 seasons in the NBA. However, the second round against the Lakers had the Rockets losing 4-3 and Yao Ming suffering yet another season-ending injury, this time a hairline fracture in his left foot.

2009–2012: Competitive rebuilding

During the 2009–10 season, the Rockets saw the departures of Artest in the off-season and McGrady, Joey Dorsey and Carl Landry during mid-season trades. Despite great play by Kevin Martin, who arrived from the Kings, and Aaron Brooks, who would eventually be chosen as the Most Improved Player of the season, the Rockets could not make it to the playoffs, finishing 42–40, 3rd in the Southwest Division. At that time, the Rockets set an NBA record for best record by a team with no All-Stars. The Rockets would also finish ninth in the Western Conference for the following two seasons, with Yao Ming getting a season-ending injury seven games into the 2010–11 season and deciding to retire during the 2011 off-season. Said off-season, which saw the NBA going through a lockout, had Adelman dismissed, and general manager Daryl Morey deciding to start a revamp of the Rockets based on advanced statistical analytics (similar to sabermetrics in baseball) in player acquisitions and style of play. Kevin McHale was named head coach, and the roster saw significant changes.

2012–present: The James Harden era

James Harden

James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, and has since become a franchise player for the Rockets.

After the roster moves made by Morey during the 2012 NBA off-season, only four players were left from the 2011–12 Rockets roster: Chandler Parsons, Greg Smith, Marcus Morris, and Patrick Patterson, with the latter two leaving through trades during the 2012–13 season. The most important acquisition was reigning sixth man of the year James Harden, who Morey called a "foundational" player expected to be Houston's featured player after a supporting role in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden caused an immediate impact as part of the starting lineup for the Rockets, with 37 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and a block in the season opener against the Detroit Pistons, and an average of 25.9 points a game through the season. Combining Harden's performance and McHale's up-tempo offense, the Rockets became one of the highest scoring offenses in the NBA, leading the league in scoring for the majority of the season. In the postseason, the Rockets fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, losing the series 4–2.

Eager to add another franchise player to their team, the Rockets heavily pursued and then acquired Jeremy Lin during the off-season, the first American of Taiwanese and Chinese descent to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Lin led the Knicks to seven straight victories while establishing an NBA scoring record in February 2012. Also, they pursued free agent center Dwight Howard in the 2013 off-season. He officially signed with the Rockets on July 13, 2013. Led by the new inside-out combination of Howard and James Harden, and with a strong supporting cast including Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, and Ömer Aşık, the Rockets were expected to jump into title contention in the upcoming season. However, that postseason, the Rockets were defeated in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers, losing the series 4–2. Still, in the 2014–15 season, without Lin and Parsons but reinforced by Trevor Ariza, the Rockets started the season well, winning the first four games of the season for the first time since 1996–97, and winning each of their first six games by 10 points or more, the first team to accomplish this feat since the 1985–86 Denver Nuggets. Though the Rockets had many key players miss time throughout the entire season, James Harden took it upon himself to keep the Rockets near the top of the conference, turning him into an MVP front-runner. He became the first Rocket to score 50 points in a game since Hakeem Olajuwon, as well as the only player in franchise history to record multiple 50 point games in a season. On April 15, 2015, the Rockets beat the Jazz to claim their first ever Southwest Division title and first Division crown since 1994, and by completing 56 wins finished with the third-best regular season record in franchise history. During the playoffs, the Rockets beat the Mavericks 4–1 in the first round, and overcame a 3–1 deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers to win the Western Semifinals and return to the Conference Finals for the first time in 18 years. In the Conference Finals, the Rockets were defeated by the Golden State Warriors 4–1.

The 2015–16 season saw Kevin McHale fired after a bad start where the team only won 4 of its first 11 games, and assistant J. B. Bickerstaff took over coaching duties. Inconsistent play led to the Rockets struggling to remain in the playoff qualifying zone, and surrounded by trade rumors. Houston only clinched its 2016 playoffs spot by winning its last game, finishing the season 41–41 to earn an eight seed and a match-up against the Warriors. Like in the previous year, the Rockets were once again defeated by Golden State in five games.

During the 2016 off-season, Mike D'Antoni was named as the Rockets' new head coach, and Dwight Howard opted out of his contract's final year, becoming a free agent. In the following free-agency period, the Rockets looked to embrace the play styles of both coach D'Antoni and Harden through the signings of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, two predominately perimeter players and good fits in Houston's up-tempo offense style.

When the 2016–17 season started, Harden was off to a great start and was widely considered a top MVP runner along with Kawhi Leonard, alongside former teammate Russell Westbrook.[140] When the season ended, the Rockets were third in both the Western Conference and overall rankings, a major improvement from the season before. D'Antoni was named the NBA Coach of the Year, Eric Gordon the Sixth Man of the Year, and Harden finished second in MVP voting to Russell Westbrook.[141] In the playoffs, the Rockets faced the sixth seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in a battle of the MVP frontrunners, as the winner was not announced until after the finals. The Rockets won the series 4–1 including Nene Hilario's perfect 12–12 in field goals in game four.[143] In the following round, Houston opened with a dominating 27 points win over the San Antonio Spurs, lost the following two games and then tied the series again. The fifth game went into overtime and had both Manu Ginobili blocking James Harden's game tying three point attempt at the final second, and Nene injuring himself out of the postseason. Without Nene, the Rockets could not guard LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the series-closing match.

During the 2017 off-season, the Rockets were purchased by Houston restaurant billionaire Tilman Fertitta for $2.2 billion, breaking the record for the price to purchase an American professional sports team.[149] The team also acquired 8-time All-NBA player and 9-time All-Star Chris Paul in a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers, in exchange for seven players, cash considerations, and a top three protected 2018 first round draft pick. Even if Paul missed many games due to a knee injury, he was a key addition to the Rockets. The team finished the season with 65 wins, a record both league-leading and the best in franchise history. During the playoffs, Houston beat the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz in five games before another confrontation with the Golden State Warriors. In game five of the Conference Finals, the Rockets took a 3–2 lead in the series, but they saw Paul leave with an injured hamstring. His absence was felt in the two remaining games, where Houston led by halftime in game seven only to suffer a comeback by Golden State.

The Rockets had one draft pick entering the off-season, and they used it to select De'Anthony Melton, packaging him in a trade with the Phoenix Suns alongside Ryan Anderson to receive Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. In free agency, they signed James Ennis III, Michael Carter-Williams, and Carmelo Anthony. They started the season with a 1–4 record, and after 13 games where they went 6–7, Houston and Anthony mutually agreed to part ways, who was eventually traded to the Chicago Bulls and subsequently waived. After falling to the 14th seed in the Western Conference, James Harden went on a 32-game streak scoring at least 30 points per game—the second-longest in NBA history—with Harden averaging 41.1 points per game in that run. He drove the Rockets through a 21–11 push in that streak; and after beginning the season 11–14, the Rockets finished the season 42–15, winning 20 of their last 25 games and finishing fourth in the Western Conference after losing the final two games of the season, which would have potentially given them the second or third seed. After what was determined to be poor fits of the acquisitions made in free agency, on top of injuries, Daryl Morey traded the players acquired in the off-season at the trade deadline and replaced them with Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried, Danuel House, and Iman Shumpert during the season. On April 7, 2019, against the Phoenix Suns, Houston became the first team in NBA history to make 25+ two-pointers and 25+ three-pointers in the same game, outscoring their last four opponents by 117 points, second best in a four-game span in franchise history (127+ in February 1993); additionally, the Rockets' 149 points tied the fourth-most in franchise history and are the most since February 1993. They beat their own record for most three-pointers made by one team in a single game in NBA history two times with 26 and 27, and they are just the fourth team in NBA history to win four consecutive games by 24 or more points (the others are the 1990–91 Chicago Bulls, the 1992–93 Rockets, and the 1995–96 Bulls). The Rockets clinched a division title and a playoff berth for a seventh straight appearance. After defeating the Utah Jazz in five games, Houston faced Golden State for the fourth time in five years. The series began with highly controversial officiating in game one, receiving pointed criticism by many fans, players, general managers, and owners in the league. With both teams winning their home games, putting the series at 2–2, Golden State won the next two games to eliminate the Houston Rockets for the second year in a row. This marked the Rockets fourth playoff defeat to the Warriors in five seasons.

During the 2019 off-season, Morey sought out to once again retool the roster. As part of a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Rockets traded Chris Paul, two future first round picks and two future first round pick swaps in exchange for James Harden's former Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook.

Team Identity

Uniforms and logos

When the Rockets debuted in San Diego, their colors were green and gold. Road uniforms featured the city name, while the home uniforms feature the team name, both in a serifed block lettering. This was the only uniform design the Rockets would use throughout their years in San Diego. The Rockets' first logo featured a rocket streaking with a basketball surrounded by the team name.

Upon moving to Houston in 1971, the Rockets replaced green with red.[8] They kept the same design from their San Diego days, save for the change of color and city name. The logo used is of a player with a spinning basketball launching upward, with boosters on his back, leaving a trail of red and gold flames and the words "Houston Rockets" below it.

For the 1972–73 season, the Rockets introduced the famous "mustard and ketchup" logo, so dubbed by fans, featuring a gold basketball surrounded by two red trails, with "Houston" atop the first red trail and "Rockets" (all capitalized save for the lowercase 'E' and 'T') in black surrounding the basketball. The initial home uniforms, used until the 1975–76 season, features the city name, numbers and serifed player name in red with gold trim, while the away uniforms feature the city name (all capitalized except for the lower case 'T' and 'N'), numbers and serifed player name in gold with white trim.

In the 1976–77 season, the Rockets modified their uniforms, featuring a monotone look on the Cooper Black fonts and white lettering on the road uniforms. On the home shorts, the team logo is located on the right leg, while the away shorts feature the team name wordmark on the same location. With minor modifications in the number font, this version was used in all four of their NBA Finals appearances, including their 1994 and 1995 championships.

Following the 1995 title, the Rockets opted to modernize their look. After a fan contest with over 5,000 entries, the team went with the idea of Missouri City artist Thomas Nash of a rocket orbiting a basketball, which was then reworked by Houston designer Chris Hill. Nash would later sue the Rockets for breach of contract, given they were using his idea despite not having paid the contest prizes. The NBA suggested that the identity should follow the cartoon-inspired imagery that other teams adopted during the 1990s, leading to a rocket painted with sharkmouth nose art orbiting a basketball. Red was retained, but navy blue and silver became the uniform's primary colors. Both the home white and away navy uniforms featured gradient-fading pinstripes and futuristic number fonts, with side stripes of navy fading to red. This was used until the 2002–03 season.

The Rockets' current logos and uniforms were introduced in the 2003–04 season, created by New York-based agency Alfafa Studio in association with Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka. The logo is a stylized 'R' in the shape of a rocket during takeoff, surrounded by a red orbit streak that can be interpreted as the central circle of a basketball court. Said "R" inspired the team's new custom typeface, designed so that every single digit could be read well from a distance, whether in the arena or on television. Red once again became the dominant color, with silver and black as secondary. In 2009, the Rockets invoked the championship years with an alternate red uniform, featuring gold numbers and side stripes. The Rockets had two sleeved alternate jerseys for the 2015–16 season, an alternate silver-colored uniform whose design referenced the design of NASA's Gemini-Titan rocket, and a red and gold jersey featuring the nickname "Clutch City". For the 2016–17 season, the Rockets began to wear a black alternate uniform until the 2017–18 season.

For the 2018–19 season, the Rockets refresh their primary and revert back to famous "mustard and ketchup" logo, so dubbed by fans, featuring a gold basketball surrounded by two red trails, with "Houston" atop the first red trail and "Rockets" (all capitalized save for the lowercase 'E' and 'T') in black surrounding the basketball (used a eight-panel design of basketball) that used from 1972 until won their back-to-back NBA titles in 1995.

Season-by-season records

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage

Season W L  % Playoffs Results
San Diego Rockets
1967-68 15 67 .183
1968-69 37 45 .461 Lost Division Semifinals Atlanta 4, San Diego 2
1969-70 27 55 .329
1970-71 40 42 .488
Houston Rockets
1971-72 34 48 .415
1972-73 33 49 .402
1973-74 32 50 .390
1974-75 41 41 .500 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 2, New York 1
Boston 4, Houston 1
1976-77 49 33 .598 Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Houston 4, Washington 2
Philadelphia 4, Houston 2
1977-78 28 54 .341
1978-79 47 35 .573 Lost First Round Atlanta 2, Houston 0
1979-80 41 41 .500 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 2, San Antonio 1
Boston 4, Houston 0
1980-81 40 42 .488 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
Houston 2, Los Angeles 1
Houston 4, San Antonio 3
Houston 4, Kansas City 1
Boston 4, Houston 2
1981-82 46 36 .561 Lost First Round Seattle 2, Houston 1
1982-83 14 68 .171
1983-84 29 53 .354
1984-85 48 34 .585 Lost First Round Utah 3, Houston 2
1985-86 51 31 .622 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
Houston 3, Sacramento 0
Houston 4, Denver 2
Houston 4, LA Lakers 1
Boston 4, Houston 2
1986-87 42 40 .512 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 3, Portland 1
Seattle 4, Houston 2
1987-88 46 36 .561 Lost First Round Dallas 3, Houston 1
1988-89 45 37 .549 Lost First Round Seattle 3, Houston 1
1989-90 41 41 .500 Lost First Round LA Lakers 3, Houston 1
1990-91 52 30 .634 Lost First Round LA Lakers 3, Houston 0
1991-92 42 40 .512
1992-93 55 27 .671 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 3, LA Clippers 2
Seattle 4, Houston 3
1993-94 58 24 .707 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Won NBA Finals
Houston 3, Portland 1
Houston 4, Phoenix 3
Houston 4, Utah 1
Houston 4, New York 3
1994-95 47 35 .573 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Won NBA Finals
Houston 3, Utah 2
Houston 4, Phoenix 3
Houston 4, San Antonio 2
Houston 4, Orlando 0
1995-96 48 34 .585 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 3, LA Lakers 1
Seattle 4, Houston 0
1996-97 57 25 .695 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Houston 3, Minnesota 0
Houston 4, Seattle 3
Utah 4, Houston 2
1997-98 41 41 .500 Lost First Round Utah 3, Houston 2
1998-99 31 19 .620 Lost First Round LA Lakers 3, Houston 1
1999-2000 34 48 .415
2000-01 45 37 .549
2001-02 28 54 .341
2002-03 43 39 .524
2003-04 45 37 .549 Lost First Round LA Lakers 4, Houston 1
2004-05 51 31 .522 Lost First Round Dallas 4, Houston 3
2005-06 34 48 .415
2006-07 52 30 .634 Lost First Round Utah 4, Houston 3
2007-08 55 27 .671 Lost First Round Utah 4, Houston 2
2008-09 53 29 .646 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 4, Portland 2
LA Lakers 4, Houston 3
2009-10 42 40 .512
2010-11 43 39 .524
2011-12 34 32 .515
2012-13 45 37 .549 Lost First Round Oklahoma City 4, Houston 2
2013-14 54 28 .659 Lost First Round Portland 4, Houston 2
2014-15 56 26 .683 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Houston 4, Dallas 1
Houston 4, LA Clippers 3
Golden State 4, Houston 1
2015-16 41 41 .500 Lost First Round Golden State 4, Houston 1
2016-17 55 27 .671 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 4, Oklahoma City 1
San Antonio 4, Houston 2
2017-18 65 17 .793 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Houston 4, Minnesota 1
Houston 4, Utah 1
Golden State 4, Houston 3
2018-19 53 29 .646 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Houston 4, Utah 1
Golden State 4, Houston 2
Totals 2225 1991 .528
Playoffs 153 157 .494 2 Championships

Arena History

San Diego Rockets

Houston Rockets

Players

Current Roster

  • 33 - Ryan Anderson
  • 15 - Clint Capela
  • 19 - Tyson Chandler
  • 5 - Gary Clark
  • 3 - Chris Clemons
  • 21 - Michael Frazier
  • 10 - Eric Gordon
  • 14 - Gerald Green
  • 13 - James Harden
  • 55 - Isaiah Hartenstein
  • 4 - Danuel House
  • 16 - Ben McLemore
  • 42 - Nenê
  • 25 - Austin Rivers
  • 18 - Thabo Sefolosha
  • 17 - P. J. Tucker
  • 0 - Russell Westbrook

Basketball Hall of Famers

Notable

Retired numbers

Franchise Leaders

Statistic Total Player
Games Played 1,177 Hakeem Olajuwon
Minutes Played 42,844 Hakeem Olajuwon
Field Goals 10,555 Hakeem Olajuwon
Field Goal Attempts 20,573 Hakeem Olajuwon
Field Goal Percentage .569 Carl Landry
Three-point Field Goals 730 Vernon Maxwell
Three-point Field Goal Attempts 2,241 Vernon Maxwell
Three-point Field Goal Percentage .436 Jon Barry
Free Throws 5,376 Hakeem Olajuwon
Free Throw Attempts 7,537 Hakeem Olajuwon
Free Throw Percentage .941 Rick Barry
Offensive Rebounds 3,936 Hakeem Olajuwon
Defensive Rebounds 9,446 Hakeem Olajuwon
Rebounds 13,382 Hakeem Olajuwon
Assists 4,402 Calvin Murphy
Steals 2,088 Hakeem Olajuwon
Blocked Shots 3,740 Hakeem Olajuwon
Turnovers 3,569 Hakeem Olajuwon
Personal Fouls 4,236 Hakeem Olajuwon
Points 26,511 Hakeem Olajuwon

Other Facts

External links

National Basketball Association
Commissioners
Maurice Podoloff (1946 - 1963) ~ Walter Kennedy (1963 - 1975) ~ Larry O'Brien (1975 - 1984) ~ David Stern (1984 - 2014) ~ Adam Silver (1975 -present)
Players
NBA Players ~ Foreign NBA Players ~ Former NBA Players
Coaches and Owners
NBA Coaches ~ NBA Owners
Annual Events
NBA Draft ~ NBA Summer League ~ NBA All-Star Weekend ~ NBA Playoffs ~ NBA Finals
Others
NBA Awards ~ NBA Arenas ~ NBA TV ~ NBA Store ~ NBA Development League

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Preceded by
Chicago Bulls
1991 & 1992 & 1993
NBA Champions
Houston Rockets

1994 & 1995
Succeeded by
Chicago Bulls
1996 & 1997 & 1998

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