Our series on the four jerseys fans of every NBA team continues today. It’s Southwest Division week, and today we’re focusing on the Houston Rockets. Remember, we’re not just going to list off four popular players in team history. We know that when you’re wearing a jersey, you’re going for a “look.” So every day we’re going to tell you the jersey you’ve got to have, the jersey you can’t go wrong with (in case you can’t find the first one), the jersey that will make people say “Oh, that’s awesome,” and the joke jersey that will have everyone laughing.
The Rockets came into existence in the late 60’s as the San Diego Rockets, but only spent a few years in southern California. After moving to Houston, the Rockets found some measure of success. But it wasn’t until the 80’s that Houston became a regular winner. Finally, in the mid-90’s they broke through to win a pair of titles. Recent times have been a bit of a mixed bag for the Rockets, so we’re leaning on history for the four jerseys Rockets fans must have until a new face of the franchise can be worked out.
Hakeem Olajuwon — He’s one of the most obvious picks for any franchise in this series. The “Dream Shake” embarrassed some of the best centers the game has seen (David Robinson still has nightmares). His mastery of the low post is unparalleled. His greatness is unquestioned. And he did it all with the cold, quiet attitude of a professional assassin. He was never in anyone’s face about how good he was, and he even celebrated Houston’s only two titles with dignity. If you ever hated Dream, it’s because he destroyed your team and left it for dead on the court. He’s in the pantheon of jerseys every NBA fan has got to have, so wear your #34 with the utmost pride.
Can’t Go Wrong With:
Rudy Tomjanovich — There was some debate as to where he would go in this, but there’s really no debate that he belongs. Sadly, Rudy T’s playing career was horribly overshadowed by Kermit Washington’s punch. What people tend to forget is Rudy T was the second overall pick in 1970, a five-time All Star, and the franchise’s third-leading scorer and fourth-leading rebounder. Rudy spent all 10 of his playing years with the Rockets and then came back to coach them for 11 more, winning both of Houston’s titles in the process. It’s hard to argue that many people have meant more to the Rockets than Rudy T did, so for that, everyone should have his #45 in their rotation.
“Oh, That’s Cool”:
Moses Malone — When I think of Moses Malone, I think Philly. But he spent six amazing seasons in Houston, winning two MVP’s and going to the Finals once (1981). Even though his stint in Houston was relatively short, he’s still in their top five all-time scoring, rebounding and blocked shots lists. Houston let him go so they could rebuild their franchise, trading him to Philly for Caldwell Jones and the draft pick that would become Ralph Sampson. And even though he went on to win a title with someone else, he didn’t force his way out of town. Moses had two numbers to choose from: #21 in his first season, and #24 after that. The #21 is cooler since its more obscure, but either works.
“Oh, That’s Funny”:
Hasheem Thabeet — The Rockets are in the middle of figuring out a new identity. With guys like Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola, there is some talent in Houston that fans can get excited about. Thabeet, though, is a bit more of a… shall we say… “project”? But you can show your misguided faith in the guy by finding his #32 (even better if you can find his Rio Grande Valley #42 jersey).
There you have it. The four jerseys Rockets fans have got to have. Disagree with us? Let us know who we missed in the comments.
Southwest Division: Dallas
Jeff Garcia collaborated on this post