Houston Rockets – The Rockets had their start in 1967, playing in San Diego. The team maintained its California home through the conclusion of the 1971 season when it departed for Houston.
It took the Rockets a while to come into their own as they qualified for the playoffs just three times in their first 11 NBA seasons.
The arrival of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson lifted the franchise to new heights in the 1980’s as the towering duo propelled Houston to four consecutive playoff appearances between 1985 and 1988.
The Rockets also made their second trip to the NBA Finals during that stretch, losing to the Boston Celtics in the 1986 championship series.
Sampson was traded in the middle of Houston’s 1988 campaign, but Olajuwon’s presence helped the Rockets maintain stability as well as their winning ways.
Houston experienced its greatest success when former Rocket Rudy Tomjanovich took over as head coach toward the end of the 1991-1992 season.
Tomjanovich guided the Rockets to the Western Conference Semifinals in 1993 and he was on the bench when Houston won the NBA Finals in 1994 and 1995. Olajuwon, who claimed league MVP honors in 1994, was named NBA Finals MVP in both series.
The team’s current core, which includes James Harden, Dwight Howard and Ty Lawson, is its best since the team’s mid-90’s championship years.
Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone, Yao Ming, Clyde Drexler, Otis Thorpe and Elvin Hayes are just a few greats — in addition to Olajuwon, Sampson and Tomjanovich — to play for the Rockets.
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