The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas, that competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They are members of the Southwest Division of the league's Western Conference. The Rockets play their home games at Toyota Center, located in downtown Houston. The Rockets have won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. The team was established in 1967 and played in San Diego, California, as the San Diego Rockets, before moving to Houston in 1971.
The Rockets won only 15 games in their debut season as a franchise in 1967. In the 1969 NBA Draft, the Rockets selected power forward Elvin Hayes first overall, 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 lead 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 7'4" 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 berth 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 second round for the rest of the decade. Rudy Tomjanovich took over as head coach midway through the 1991–92 season, ushering in the most successful period in franchise history. The Rockets would reach the 1994 NBA Finals, where Olajuwon led the team to the franchise's first championship against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. The team repeated as champions in 1995 as the sixth seed in the West and swept the favored Orlando Magic, who were led by a young Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. 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 recent acquisitions of franchise players James Harden and Dwight Howard have launched the Rockets back into championship contention. 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.
NBA champion (1994, 1995)
1510 Polk St.
Houston, TX 77002