kermit washington punching rudy tomjanovich

Top Ten Houston Rockets of All-Time

houston rockets old logo

We’ve hit the dog days of the NBA summer.  All the big name free agents have been snatched up.  Summer league is over.  Training camps are still months away.  So, now is the perfect time to reminisce a bit.  The Hoops Manifesto has gathered together a stellar collection of Bloguin basketball writers to determine the top ten players all-time for each of the 30 NBA franchises.  Next up: the Houston (nee San Diego) Rockets.

Voting panel: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, College Wolf from the TWolves Blog, Don from With Malice, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily and Diego from Leaving It All On The Court.

10) Steve Francis – Houston Rockets – 1999 – 2004, 2007

steve-francis-picks-nose

Rockets accomplishments:

- three-time NBA All-Star
- NBA Rookie of the Year
- NBA All-Rookie Team

“A three-time All-Star calling himself a franchise player? Francis was arrogant, but also a great scorer, a good distributor and one of the best guards at rebounding. He led the team after it was finished contending for championships in the mid-90s.” – Diego Quezada

“Luckily for Houston, God told Steve Francis that He didn’t want him to play for the team that drafted him – Vancouver.” – Jeff Fox

9) Ralph Sampson – Houston Rockets – 1983 – 1987

Rockets accomplishments:

- NBA leader in games played in 1983/84 & 1984/85
- four-time NBA All-Star
- NBA Rookie of the Year
- NBA All-Rookie Team
- one-time All-NBA selection

“Forming one of the first “Twin Tower” duos with Olajuwon, Sampson was one of the best big men in the League before injuries hurt his career. In the 1985 Western Conference Finals, Sampson made a turnaround jumper that beat the defending champion Lakers while Olajuwon was ejected.” – Diego Quezada

“Sampson spent the first four-and-a-half seasons at the Rockets, and that would be the best years of his career – an All-Star every year. Stretching out to 7’4″, when teamed with Olujawon they were a fearsome forest in defense, and nigh on impossible to defend on offense – the original “Twin Towers”. Best remembered for his buzzer-beater to dethrone the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in ’86: an amazing, twisting, prayer of a shot with one second left to win the game.” – Don

8) Clyde Drexler – Houston Rockets – 1995 – 1998

Rockets accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (22) retired by Rockets
- member of the 1995 Rockets NBA championship team
- two-time NBA All-Star
- one-time All-NBA selection

“One of the quintessential shooting guards of the NBA, Clyde could take people off the dribble with his athleticism, shoot the outside J, post-up defenders, rebound, handle the ball and block shots. He paved the way for a lot of today’s best shooting guards to follow him.” – Diego Quezada

7) Tracy McGrady - Houston Rockets – 2004 – 2010

Rockets accomplishments:

- three-time NBA All-Star
- three-time All-NBA selection

He may not have made it past the first round, but McGrady also scored 13 points in 37 seconds and led the Rockets to a 22-game winning streak in a Houston uniform. He and Yao may not have been Shaq and Kobe, but T-Mac still had his moments with the Rockets.” – Diego Quezada

6) Rudy Tomjanovich – San Diego/Houston Rockets – 1970 – 1981

Rockets accomplishments:

- jersey number (45) retired by Rockets
- five-time NBA All-Star

“He never was the same player after Kermit Washington collapsed his face and almost killed him, but five All-Star appearances in a 11 season career is pretty impressive nonetheless.” – Jeff Fox

5) Elvin Hayes – San Diego/Houston Rockets – 1968 – 1972, 1981 – 1984

 Rockets accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- NBA leader in games played in 1969/70
- NBA leader in minutes played in 1968/69 & 1969/70
- NBA leader in field goals made in 1968/69
- NBA leader in field goal attempts in 1968/69, 1969/70 & 1970/71
- NBA leader in total rebounds in 1969/70
- NBA leader in points in 1968/69
- NBA leader in minutes played per game in 1969/70
- NBA leader in rebounds per game in 1969/70
- NBA leader in points per game in 1968/69
- four-time NBA All-Star
- NBA All-Rookie Team

“One of the few rookies to lead the League in scoring at 28.4 ppg, Hayes consistently averaged high points and rebounds during his tenure with the Rockets. He was also one of the most durable players ever, always playing 80 or more games.” – Diego Quezada

“Rookie year, the Big E quietly throws up a massive 54 points with the season just begun, and the last time a rook lead the scoring average was with Elvin Hayes. In his second season, he lead rebounding – the first time in a decade that someone not named Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain had done so. It’s a pity that the Rockets traded him when they did, as the Big E had some of his best years coming. He finished his time, aptly, as a Rocket.” – Don 

4) Yao Ming – Houston Rockets – 2002 – present

Rockets accomplishments:

- seven-time NBA All-Star
- NBA All-Rookie Team
- five-time All-NBA selection

“Yao has always quietly gone about his business putting up pretty solid numbers. He is not the transcendent talent everyone thought he would be and injuries have slowed him down. But no one can deny how he has helped grow the sport in China and Asia and opened up basketball to completely new markets.” – Philip

“It seems almost certain that Yao’s career will be remembered for his injuries and what could have been, but even if he doesn’t play in another NBA game, he has a Hall of Fame worthy resume.” – Jeff Fox

3) Calvin Murphy – San Diego/Houston Rockets – 1970 – 1983

calvin murphy

Rockets accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (23) retired by the Rockets
- sixth all-time in free throw % in the NBA
- Rockets all-time leader in assists
- NBA leader in games played in 1978/79
- NBA leader in field goal attempts in 1977/78
- NBA leader in free throw % in 1980/81 & 1982/83
- one-time NBA All-Star
- NBA All-Rookie Team

“A Hall-of-Fame player, Murphy didn’t let his 5-foot-9 stature slow him down. He was one of the quickest guards in the game, one of the best free-throw shooters ever and led the Rockets in scoring before Hakeem broke it.” – Diego Quezada

2) Moses Malone – Houston Rockets – 1976 – 1982

Rockets accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (24) retired by the Rockets
- NBA leader in games played in 1978/79
- NBA leader in minutes played in 1978/79 & 1981/82
- NBA leader in offensive rebounds in 1977/78, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1980/81, 1981/82
- NBA leader in defensive rebounds in 1978/79
- NBA leader in total rebounds in 1978/79, 1980/81 & 1981/82
- NBA leader in minutes per game in 1978/79 & 1981/82
- NBA leader in rebounds per game in 1978/79, 1980/81 & 1981/82
- two-time NBA MVP
- five-time NBA All-Star
- one-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
- four-time All-NBA selection

“One of the most successful high school-to-pro basketball players ever, Malone won the MVP when he was just 23-years-old. He didn’t win his championship until he went to Philly, but Malone provided the scoring and rebounding the Rockets needed to contend.” – Diego Quezada

“His best years in Houston he was averaging 20 points per game and nearly 20 rebounds per game. His numbers are astounding, even if he could not produce in the postseason.” – Philip

“A three-time NBA MVP (two whilst a Rocket), Moses Malone put up NBA 2K11 numbers.  In his first MVP season (’79), he averaged nearly 25 points and over 17 rebounds per game. The second of his MVPs at Houston (’82) he scored 31.1 ppg and 14.7 rpg. Insane numbers. Tenacious and unrelenting on the boards, Malone still holds the record for offensive boards in a season – 587.” – Don  

“For my money one of the most underrated superstars of all-time, Moses Malone was one of the greatest centers the game has ever seen.” – Jeff Fox

1) Hakeem Olajuwon – Houston Rockets – 1984 – 2001

hakeem-olajuwon

Rockets accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (34) retired by the Rockets
- member of the 1994 & 1995 Rockets NBA championship teams
- Rockets all-time leader in games, minutes, field goals (made & attempted), free throws (made & attempted), rebounding (offensive, defensive & total), steals, blocks & points
- seventh all-time in field goals made in the NBA
- ninth all-time in field goals attempted in the NBA
- eighth all-time in offensive rebounds in the NBA
- third all-time in defensive rebounds in the NBA
- eighth all-time in steals in the NBA
- first all-time in blocks in the NBA
- eighth all-time in points in the NBA
- third all-time in blocks per game in the NBA
- NBA leader in games played in 1984/85, 1988/89, 1989/90 & 1998/99
- NBA leader in field goals attempted in 1993/94
- NBA leader in offensive rebounds in 1984/85
- NBA leader in defensive rebounds in 1988/89 & 1989/90
- NBA leader in total rebounds in 1988/89 & 1989/90
- NBA leader in blocks in 1989/90 & 1992/93
- NBA leader in rebounds per game in 1988/89 & 1989/90
- NBA leader in blocks per game in 1989/90, 1990/91 & 1992/93
- two-time NBA Finals MVP
- one-time NBA MVP
- two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year
- 12-time NBA All-Star
- nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
- 12-time All-NBA selection
- NBA All-Rookie Team

“Making it to the Finals in just his second season, Hakeem is one of the greatest centers to ever play the game. In 1994, Hakeem “The Dream” was named league MVP, Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and an All-NBA First Team player. Michael Jordan said Olajuwon would be his first choice as the center for an all-time team, and he defeated Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal during his two championship Finals. ” – Diego Quezada

“The Dream redefined what a big man could do throughout his career. From The Dream Shake, to his sweet step-back jumper, the center position was never the same after Olajuwon was through with it. Michael Jordan won six out of eight titles in the 1990s, Olajuwon won the two while Jordan was retired. That counts for something, right? Hakeem abused a young Shaquille O’Neal in the 1995 NBA Finals and made us never question the heart of a champion.” – Philip

“The true greatness of Hakeem Olajuwon can be witnessed by simply watching one playoff series – the 1995 Western Conference Finals, where he turned one of the game’s all-time greats – David Robinson – into the punchline of a joke.  The Dream became Mr. Robinson’s nightmare.” -  Jeff Fox

Previous franchises done: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Golden State.

About Jeff Fox

Jeff Fox is Mr. Manifesto - the Supreme Leader and evil mind behind The Hoops Manifesto & The MMA Manifesto

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