Houston Rockets Guide: Franchise History, Leaders, Retired Numbers, Social Media and More


Previous Franchise Names: San Diego Rockets

Principal Owner: Leslie Alexander
CEO: Ted Brown
General Manager: Daryl Morey
Head Coach: J.B. Bickerstaff

Best Season: 1993-94 (58-24, .707)
Playoff Appearances: 29
NBA Championships: 2 (1993-95)


Basketball: Closeup of Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (34) on bench during game vs Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
Los Angeles, CA 11/4/2000
CREDIT: John W. McDonough (Photo by John W. McDonough /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X61813 TK2 R3 F12 )

The Houston Rockets trace their roots back to the NBA’s 1967 expansion, as the San Diego Rockets joined the league along with the Seattle SuperSonics.

The Rockets’ stint in San Diego was short—just four seasons—before the franchise was shifted to Houston for the 1971-72 season.

It was 10 years before the club posted its first winning record and Houston’s first foray into the NBA Finals came upon a wave of upsets in 1981 after finishing just 40-42—the last NBA team to reach the Finals after posting a losing record during the regular year.

The Rockets returned to the Finals in 1986, but the result was the same as it had been five years earlier—a six-game loss to the Boston Celtics.

Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets to their only two titles in back-to-back seasons, ruling the NBA in 1993-94 and 1994-95, and the club hasn’t been back to the Finals since.

The Rockets have 29 playoff appearances in 49 NBA seasons and have produced a pair of NBA MVPs in Moses Malone and Olajuwon.

The franchise’s first star was University of Houston big man Elvin Hayes, drafted first overall in 1968 and leading the expansion Rockets to a 22-win improvement and the team’s first playoff berth.

The Rockets of the 1970s were led by stars Rudy Tomjanovich and Calvin Murphy before the arrival of Malone in a trade from the Buffalo Braves early in the 1976-77 season.

In the 1980s, back-to-back first overall picks yielded Ralph Sampson (1983) and Olajuwon (1984), helping the club back to respectability after they bottomed out following Malone’s exit as a free agent in 1982.

Houston rebuilt again in the middle of the 21st century’s first decade behind center Yao Ming, the first foreign player taken first overall, and All-Star Tracy McGrady.

The current Rockets are built around All-Star James Harden, acquired in a 2012 trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tomjanovich went on to become the franchise’s most successful coach, posting a 503-397 record and going 51-39 in the playoffs during his run that covered the final 30 games of the 1991-92 season through the end of the 2002-03 campaign.

Houston Rockets Career Leaders (as of 3/9/2016)

  • Games, Hakeem Olajuwon, 1177
  • Points, Hakeem Olajuwon, 26511
  • Rebounds, Hakeem Olajuwon, 13382
  • Assists, Calvin Murphy, 4402
  • Steals, Hakeem Olajuwon, 2088
  • Blocks, Hakeem Olajuwon, 3740
of the Houston Rockets looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won the game 127-117. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn /Allsport

Houston Rockets Retired Numbers

Houston Rockets Official Links

Official Team Site: nba.com/rockets
Official Twitter Handle: @houstonrockets
Official Facebook Page: Houston Rockets
Official Instagram Page: Houston Rockets
Official Arena Page: Toyota Center

Houston Rockets Beat Writers

Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, @jonathan_feigen
Jenny Dial-Creech, Houston Chronicle, @jennydialcreech
Kristie Rieken, Associated Press, @kristieap
Calvin Watkins, ESPN.com, @calvinwatkins
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com, @franblinebury

Related Houston Rockets Blogs and Links

Houston Rockets Logo History, courtesy of Chris Creamer’s Sportslogos.net
Salary Page: Houston Rockets Salaries at Spotrac
FanSided Houston Rockets: Space City Scoop
SB Nation Houston Rockets: The Dream Shake
ESPN TrueHoop Houston Rockets: Red94
HoopsHabit Houston Rockets Archive: Houston Rockets
Bleacher Report Houston Rockets Team Stream: Houston Rockets
RealGM Houston Rockets Page: Houston Rockets

Stats and retired number information courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com