Houston Rockets All Time Roster

STARTING LINEUP :

C. Hakeem Olajuwon

P.F. Moses Malone

S.F. Tracy McGrady

S.G. Clyde Drexler

P.G. Calvin Murphy

BENCH :

C. Yao Ming

P.F. Elvin Hayes

S.F. Rudy Tomjanovich

S.G. Steve Francis

P.G. Kenny Smith

C. Ralph Sampson

P.F. Otis Thorpe

CENTERS :

At center I chose Hakeem Olajuwon. No need to explain why, he is definitely the best Rockets player ever. The only Rocket to ever lead the team to a ring (they even won two rings with him), one of the very best defenders ever, one of the very best centers ever, arguably a top ten player ever.. Just an amzing player.

As his back up I chose Yao Ming. Yao was a problem for me in that roster. Because of all his injuries. As a matter of fact Yao’s career was deeply hurt by his many injuries and he was never able to play at the maximum of his potential and to lead the Rockets anywhere. But he still had a huge impact on the Rockets and is definitely the best Rockets player that we’ve seen since Hakeem Olajuwon. No doubt it was worth to watch the Rockets this past decade only because of him. I also think that a case could be made for Ralph Sampson here, but I chose Yao over Sampson cause not only Ralph is in the same case as Yao but, injuries hurt his career too, but it was even worse for Sampson as he had only three complete years during his career, his first three years in the league. After that his injury problems began and never let him go. He was traded in his fourth year. That’s too bad cause he was an unbelievable player.

POWER FORWARDS :

At PF I picked Moses Malone. Moses was a center but he played PF as well and as he has to start I put him at PF. Fantastic player, quite underrated cause when we talk about the All Time great people easily forget about him, but he is definitely a top 5/6 All Time center.

As his back up I picked Elvin Hayes. Fantastic player Hall of Famer, he played his first four years in Houston and ended his career here. Elvin played at center most of his Houston years but he was nonetheless rather a PF, he played PF all of his Washington years and when Malone was in Houston. He was All Star four times in Houston, his first four years in the league, and even if he was not an All Star any longer and was on the downside of his career when he came back to Texas, he was still an amazing player and still had some great years.

SMALL FORWARDS :

At SF I chose Tracy McGrady. T-Mac’s days in Houston were not as glorious as in Orlando (due to injuries) but he still had some terrific years there. And he is clearly the best SF (he started at SG most of the time but he played and actually even started at SF several times, especially during his first two years in Houston) that the Rockets ever had. It is also in Houston that he made one of his most amazing performances, possibly, even certainly, the best performance of his career : he scored 13 points in 35 seconds at the end of a game against the Spurs and made his team win.

As his back up I picked Rudy Tomjanovich. As a matter of fact before he became the coach of the only two Rockets teams that ever won a ring, Rudy T was an unbelievable player in the 70’s. He was a five time All Star and the leader of the team. He is the third leading scorer in Rockets history behind Hakeem and Cal Murphy. Rudy played at PF most of his career but he was a swing man and could, and did, play at SF through his career. It is just impossible not to talk about the Kermit Washington incident when mentioning Rudy T. One of the most outrageous things that ever happened on an NBA court. During a game a December 1977 Washington threw a punch at Rudy, leaving him lying on the ground for several minutes. Rudy could have died that day. Fortunately for him he did not but this incident forced him to remain on the sideline for five months. He then fullly recovered from it but he was never the same player and he would have certainly not retired that young (32) without this incident.

SHOOTING GUARDS :

At SG I picked Clyde Drexler. The Glide started to decrease in his Rockets days but he was still a terrific player in Houston. He was still an All Star for two years and the second best player of one of the two teams that won a ring. He could not have ended his career a better way than the way he did, in the city in which he was born.

As his back up I picked Steve Francis. Steve was a combo guard, he played PG for most of his career but he also played SG many times, he even played mainly at SG during the last years of his career. And as I wanted to have Murphy and Smith in that roster at PG I chose to use Francis as a SG. He had what we can call a tough career, the end of his career was not very pretty (mainly due to his injuries), but his years with Houston were amazing. He wasn’t called Stevie Franchise for nothing. He is with Yao and T-Mac the last true Rockets star. So I think that it is just impossible not to mention him in this roster.

POINT GUARDS :

At PG I picked Calvin Murphy. Calvin was a fantastic player, a free throw king, the heart of the Rockets in the 70’s, with Rudy T. One of the greatest scoring PGs in the history of the game.

His back up has to be Kenny Smith very important part of the two rings, especially the 95 finals. In 94 Harper literally destroyed him, Harper was an amazing defender, and Smith didn’t do anything during those finals. But in 95 he certainly had his revenge, without him they wouldn’t have won. His 7 three pointers during game 1 (one of the best games I’ve ever seen) were unbelievable, he broke a finals record that day (hold by Majerle and Jordan), especially the shot he hit after Nick the Brick missed his four free throws, to send both teams in overtime. Without him they wouldn’t have won that game and things would have been different maybe. Certainly. The loss of that game changed everything the Magic were dominating the whole game and losing at the very end broke their confidence. When they lost that game they lost the finals.

11th & 12th SPOTS :

For the last two spots I picked Ralph Sampson and Otis Thorpe. As I said above Ralph Sampson did not have the career that he was supposed to have. Because of a very bad knee injury that never let him alone. He only played three complete seasons in his career, his first three in Houston. Which is why I did not want to put him in that roster at first. But I eventually decided to, because he was a phenomenal player. At his arrival in the big league many even thought that he would become the best player to ever play the game. When the Rockets drafted Olajuwon one year later (after Ralph was named ROY) everyone was curious to see how the two big men would play together. Many doubted that they could but many others thought that this duo would become one of the greatest ever. John Lucas even said that Ralph would “revolutionized” the Power Forward position. The two players got along perfectly and they are indeed one of the very best front court duos that we ever seen, up there with Bird-McHale, Reed-Lucas, Robinson-Duncan or Hayes-Unseld. It sadly did not last long, Ralph was never able to reach his prime but the Olajuwon-Sampson duo still had a few great years together, their best one is definitely the time they beat the Lakers in the 1986 WCF Finals to face the Celtics in the Finals. They did not win the ring but it was still an amazing accomplishment to defeat the Lakers who had been in the Finals for four years in a row, and the hero of that Lakers-Rockets series, the one who hit the clutch shot at the end of the 5th and last game was… Ralph Sampson.

Otis Thorpe was a great player, Mr huge hands. He could hold the ball in one hand as if it was a lemon. He was another key player of the 94 Rockets squad. At the time he was considered by many as the second best player in the team. OT was even All Star in 1992. Very good PF he definitely deserves to be mentioned in this roster.

Now Barkley, Sam I am, Horry, Rodney McCray, Robert Reid or John Lucas could be mentioned here as well but frankly I think that the players I mentioned deserve it more. Speaking of Horry, at the time he was in Houston I, along with other people, was sure that Robert would become the next Pippen, he definitely was enough talented. He certainly did not but his career is still amazing nonetheless. He is still today one of my favorite players ever.

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