| Houston Rockets HISTORY
Arena: Toyota Center
Division Championships: 8 (1977, 1986, 1993, 1994, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Midwest Division 4(1977, 1986, 1993, 1994)
Southwest Division 4(2015, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Conference Titles 4(1981, 1986, 1993, 1994)
NBA Titles: 2(1994, 1995)
The Rockets originally began in San Diego, California in 1967. In the 1960s the Space Age and Space Race was on every American's mind, and San Diego played a key part in the race. Many space firms sprung up in and around San Diego, so the ownership of the team chose the name Rockets to reflect this burgeoning industry.
In 1971 the Rockets relocated to Houston and the name stuck because it fit better in Houston than it did in San Diego. Houston is home to NASA's Mission Control center and still plays a major part in American space advancements today.
First Draft Pick:
The first ever draft pick of the San Diego Rockets was Kentucky forward Pat Riley. Riley would play 3 seasons with the Rockets before moving to Los Angeles. Riley would have a solid career, but would go on to be one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. He would lead his Knicks against the Rockets in the 1994 NBA finals, but fall to the team that drafted him in 7 games.
Never Underestimate the Heart of a Champion:
Going into the 1995 NBA playoffs, the defending champion Rockets, looked like a team that was about to face a first round exit. The team limped into the post season as the 6th seed, and would have to face a western conference loaded with elite teams.
Houston would lose their opening game at the buzzer against the Jazz in Salt Lake City, but would trounce the Jazz in game 2. The Jazz rebounded in game 3 and the Rockets would take the series back to Salt Lake City with a game 4 victory. The Rockets would eek out a stunning game 5 victory and advance to the second round.
In the second round the Rockets would face the Phoenix Suns. The Rockets would get blown out in games 1 and 2, but come back in game 3 with a blow out of their own. But the Suns rebounded and took game 4 and a 3-1 series lead. The Rockets somehow miraculously would win the next two games and force game 7. In game 7, Mario Elie hit a shot with 7 seconds left to seal the victory and the series for the Rockets. The Rockets would become just the 5th in NBA history to win a series after being down 3-1.
The Rockets would face the number 1 seed and best team in the NBA that year the San Antonio Spurs. The series was odd in that the first five games seen the road teams win. The Rockets won both games in San Antonio, but the Spurs turned around and won both games in Houston only to have the Rockets grab a 3-2 series lead win a game 5 victory in San Antonio. The Rockets would be the first team in the series to get a home win in game 6 closing out the top seeded Spurs in 6 games and advancing back to the NBA finals.
In the finals the Spurs would meet the upstart Orlando Magic. The Magic were heavily favorited, and where the top team in the East that year. Orlando had been impressive in the playoffs, and were the only team in the 1990s to win a playoff series vs Michael Jordan. The Rockets, however, proved to be too much for the young Magic. The Rockets swept the Magic and won their second NBA title. During the cutting down of the net celebration, head coach Rudy Tomjanovich uttered the now famous line "Never underestimate the heart of a champion".
The Rockets 1995 title run is one of the most impressive in NBA history. They did not have home court in any of the four rounds, and faced a 62 win Spurs team, a 60 win Jazz team, a 59 win Suns team, and a 57 win Magic team. They are also the lowest seed (6th seed) to ever win an NBA title, and until the 8th seeded 1999 Knicks, where the lowest seed to ever make the NBA finals.
13 in 33:
Rockets guard Tracy McGrady had one of the most iconic and crazy moments in NBA history. On December 9, 2004 the Rockets trailed the San Antonio Spurs 68 to 76 with 33 seconds to go. This is usually an insurmountable lead, but T-Mac did what he could and got some help from some NBA magic. McGrady hit 4 three points and a free throw the lead the Rockets to an 81-80 victory, scoring 13 points in 33 seconds.
June 17, 1994:
June 17, 1994, is one of the most famous dates in American sports history and it is also one of the most important dates in Houston Rockets history. The date is famous because of the number of huge historically important sports events that took place on that day. Arnold Palmer played his final round of gold at the US Open. The 1994 World Cup opened in the United States. The New York Rangers had a ticker tape parade down Broadway. Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals between the Rockets and New York Knicks. Ken Griffey tied Babe Ruth's record for most home runs before June 30ths. And the most famous event of them all, the OJ Simpson bronco chase.
The day is captured by ESPN on a 30 for 30 documentary named June 17, 1994. The day would have a profound negative effect and almost a curse on all those involved. Palmer would lose at the US Open ending his illustrious golfing career. The US would disappoint in the cup and not even advance to the knockout stage. Columbia's Andres Escobar scored on an own goal vs the US and would be murdered a week later. The Rangers would not make another Stanley Cup until 2014 and have yet to win another one. The Knicks would lose the title to the Rockets, though make it back in 1999 only to lose to the Spurs. The Rockets won the 1994 and 1995 titles, but since then have struggled in the playoffs. The 1994 MLB season would be cut short 2 months later by a players strike. OJ Simpson would be found not guilty in his capitol murder charge, but would be found civilly liable and would eventually do prison time for theft.
James Harden has become the Rockets most dynamic scorer in franchise history.
Kermit Washington landed a punch that almost killed Rudy Tomjanovich. Know as "The Punch" it is widely considered one of the worst moments in NBA history and forever changed both players careers and reputation.