What is in a name? The origins of some NBA teams’ names have a history. for example, did the Houston Rockets get their name due to Houston, Texas being NASA’s headquarters? In fact, the Rockets originated in San Diego. The franchise chose “Rockets” in a “name-the-team” contest. It based this choice on the motto of San Diego, “A City in Motion.”
Indeed, the Rockets have been flying towards the NBA finals since the Rockets joined the NBA during the 1971-1972. Prior to the season’s start, the team relocated from San Diego, California; to Houston, Texas. The name “Rockets” was ideal, as Houston was NASA’s headquarters. Unfortunately, the Rockets ended the season with a 34-48 record.
The Rockets’ climb to the top of the NBA totem pole would take over two decades. About a decade later, they took their first step in the 1980-1981 season. Though they earned a losing record of 40-42, the Rockets crept into the playoffs. They first shocked the world champion Los Angeles Lakers. Then they defeated the San Antonio Spurs (4-3) and the Kansas City Kings (4-1), but lost in the NBA Finals to the mighty Boston Celtics (4-2).
During the 1985-1986 season, the Rockets returned to prominence, thanks chiefly to the play of Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon. They finished the regular season at 43-31. The Rockets then blasted their way to the NBA finals, fairly easily. They beat the Sacramento Kings (3-0), Denver Nuggets (4-2), and Los Angeles Lakers (4-2). However, the Celtics simply overpowered the Rockets in the NBA Finals (4-2).
In the 1993-1994 season, the Rockets soared to success. After becoming victors in the first 15 games of the season, they ultimately earned a 58-24 record. Hakeen Olajuawon and a substantial supporting cast marched into the playoffs. They defeated the Portland Trailblazers (3-2), Phoenix Suns (4-3), and Utah Jazz (4-1). In the NBA Finals, the Rockets faced the New York Knicks. Olajuwon confined John Starks’ final shot at the buzzer, securing a Rockets victory. They would win Game 7 and their first NBA Championship.
In the following season, the Rockets would defend their NBA crown. They completed the regular season with a marginally good 47-35 record. Their road by the playoffs included series victories over the Utah Jazz (3-2,), the Phoenix Suns (4-3), and San Antonio Spurs (4-2). In the first two series, the Rockets had to battle back from 2-1 and 3-1 deficits, respectively. The Rockets completed an amazing season by sweeping the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals.
The Houston Rockets have retired the jersey numbers of five players, by their franchise’s history:
Clyde Drexler – #22 (Forward) 1994-1998
Moses Malone – #24 (Center) 1976-1982
Calvin Murphy – #32 (Guard) 1970-1983
Hakeem Olajuwon #34 (Center) 1984-2001
Rudy Tomjanovich #45 (Forward) 1970-1981
Throughout the Houston Rockets’ history, the sky has been the limit. Though they have experienced challenging games, series, and seasons, they have regularly moved onwards and upwards. Use Houston Rockets merchandise to cheer on the Rockets as they blast towards another NBA championship!