Houston Rockets Details
The Rockets were formed as an expansion team in 1967. They initially played in San Diego, California and moved to Houston, Texas in 1971.
In 1981, the Rockets reached their first NBA Finals. In 1986, their famous “Twin Towers” duo of Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon led the team back to the finals, but they lost to the Celtics in 6 games.
Without Sampson, Olajuwon put together one of his best seasons in 1993-94 and once again led the team to the finals. This time, the Rockets beat the New York Knicks in 7 games, and Olajuwon won Finals MVP. In their next season, the Rockets added future Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler who helped the Rockets repeat as champions in 1995, sweeping Shaquille O’Neal and the Magic, and Olajuwon won his second finals MVP award. Both Olajuwon and Drexler have their numbers retired by the Rockets. Olajuwon left the team in 2001, after the Rockets had been competitive for much of the 90s. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in blocked shots by more than 500.
After Olajuwon’s departure, the Rockets drafted 7 foot 6 inch Yao Ming with the first overall pick in 2002. Yao was a dominating presence on the court, but he was only able to get the Rockets past the first round of the playoffs a single time, and frequent injury trouble forced him into an early retirement.
In 2012, the Rockets acquired their current franchise player, James Harden, in a trade with the Thunder. Harden is one of the league’s best scorers and excels at drawing fouls for free throw attempts. Last season, Harden averaged his career best in points per game with 29.1, and this summer, he signed the richest contract—which includes a guaranteed $228 million—in NBA history.
The Rockets should be an exciting team in a tough Western Conference this 2017-18 season. Houston traded for one of the league’s best point guards in Chris Paul. Paul controls the tempo of a game and frequently leads the league in steals. The Rockets will look for Paul and Harden to take them beyond the second round of the playoffs, where they finished last season.
The Rockets play in downtown Houston at the Toyota Center.