The Houston Rockets are a professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas, and competes in the National Basketball Association or the NBA as a member of the Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its home games at the Toyota Center, which is located in downtown Houston. The Houston Rockets have won two NBA championships as well as four Western Conference titles. The team is owned by American billionaire businessman and TV personality, Tilman Joseph Fertitta. In this article, we are going to know more about the Houston Rockets.
Who are the Houston Rockets?
The team was founded as the San Diego Rockets in 1967. However, after losing four-season, the franchise decided to move to Houston. The new Houston Rockets team was led by Elvin Hayes, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Calvin Murphy. The Rockets traded for elite center Moses Malone two games into the’ 76-’77 season. That is also the same year when the team posted their first winning season ever. That is why they advanced to the conference finals where Malone bagged the NBA Most Valuable Player award.
During the 1980-’81 season, the Houston Rockets finished the regular season with a 40-42 record and manage to qualify for the playoffs. The Rockets made their first-ever NBA Finals appearance in 1981. They became the second team in NBA history to make the finals with a losing record. But during the finals, they lost to the Boston Celtics. In 1982, Malone left the team, and the Rockets fell to the lower tier of the NBA.
In 1984, the Rockets decided to draft Hakeem Olajuwon and quickly became the face of the team. Olajuwon teamed with Ralph Samson. Both of them led the Rockets to another NBA Finals in 1986, wherein they were once again defeated by the Boston Celtics. The Houston Rockets continued to qualify for the postseason all throughout the ’80s. However, they failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs.
Midway through the 1991-92 season, Tomjanovich decided to take the head coaching duties, which led the Rockets into their most successful period. In the 1993-94 and 1994-94 season, the team managed to win back-to-back NBA titles. Thanks to the fantastic play from Olajuwon, critical contributions from forward Robert Horry, guard Sam Cassel, and forward Clyde Drexler.
In 1996, the Houston Rockets decided to add Charles Barkley. But, the presence of three NBA’s 50 greatest players, namely Drexler, Olajuwon, and Barkley was not enough to bring the Houston Rockets past the Western Conference finals. By 2001, each of the terrific trios left the team. The Rockets entered a new phase led by superstars Tracy McGrady and the 7-footer from China, Yao Ming. In 2010, Tracy McGrady was traded away and Yao Ming retired the following year after he missed the previous two seasons because of his injuries. This change led the Rockets into a rebuilding process.
During the team’s rebuilding, they became known for their reliance on advanced statistical analyses when it comes to player acquisition. As a result, the Rockets earned a playoff berth during the 2012-13 season. They managed to get the younger roster in the NBA, including the shooting guard James Harden and star center Dwight Howard during the following off-season.
In the 2014-15 season, the Rockets had their best record since the Olajuwon era. They also managed to make it into the Western Conference Finals, but they lost against the Golden State Warriors. The following season, the Rockets got off to a slow start, which led to a coaching change. However, it still did not fix the issues and effort issues in the team.
The Houston Rockets decided to add point guard Chris Paul during the off-season, and Paul managed to help the Rockets reach new heights during the 2017-18 season. In fact, the team set a new franchise record for regular-season victories. The Houston Rockets made it to the conference finals during that season, but the lousy timing injury that Chris Paul had given the Golden State Warriors a seven-game series victory.
Even if the Rockets struggled during the early 2018-19 season, they still managed to enter the playoffs. They were recognized as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Despite the sweet momentum, the team once again lost to the Golden State Warriors during the postseason conference finals.