Coached by Hall of Fame coach Alex Hannum, the Rockets tallied a 57–97 record in the following two seasons, and did not make the playoffs in either season. Because of the low performance and attendance, Breitbard looked to sell the team, and in 1971, Texas Sports Investments, which was led by real estate broker Wayne Duddleston and banker Billy Goldberg, bought the franchise for $5.6 million, and moved the team to Houston. The franchise became the first NBA team in Texas, and the team’s nickname of “Rockets” kept its relevance after the move.
Alexander bought the Rockets in July 1993 for $85 million. In his first two seasons as owner (1993 – 1994 and 1994 – 1995), the Rockets won back to back World Championships anchored by Hall of Fame Hakeem Olajuwon. The Rockets have the 2nd highest win percentage in the NBA across Alexander’s reign as owner (#1 Spurs). In 2003, the Toyota Center was opened and the franchise almost instantly became twice as profitable.
In 2008, Alexander was listed by Forbes magazine as the best owner in the NBA.
NBA Finals – 1994
The 1994 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1993 – 1994 National Basketball Association season, featuring the Western Conference’s Houston Rockets defeating the Eastern Conference’s New York Knicks. This matchup was Hakeem Olajuwon’s second NBA Finals series appearance, his other being in 1986, where Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets four games to two. The series was Patrick Ewing’s first NBA Finals appearance. The Rockets came in with strong determination to win not only the franchise’s first NBA championship, but the city’s first championship in a league that still existed, all while the Knicks were looking to add a third NBA championship trophy, as the Knicks’ last trophy came from the 1973 NBA Finals. The Knicks also hoped to impress their new owners Viacom, who had just bought Paramount Communications (formerly Gulf+Western), their longtime owners (after the series however, Viacom sold the Knicks and the rest of the Madison Square Garden properties). The Rockets beat the Knicks in Game 7, 90–84, enabling the city of Houston to not only celebrate its first NBA Championship.
NBA Finals – 1995
The 1995 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1994 – 1995 NBA season. The series pitted the Orlando Magic against the Houston Rockets. The pre-series hype and build-up of the Finals was centered on the meeting of the two centers Shaquille O’Neal of the Magic and Hakeem Olajuwon of the Rockets. Going into the series the matchup was compared to the Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain matchup of the 1960s. In addition, the Rockets’ sweep of the Magic was unique, in the fact that it was a “reverse sweep,” where Houston won Games 1 and 2 on the road and 3 and 4 at home. It was also the second NBA Finals sweep in the 2-3-2 Finals format. The Rockets also became the first repeat NBA Champion in history to keep the title with a sweep. In addition, the Rockets became the first team in NBA history to win the title without having home-court advantage in any of the four playoff rounds since the playoffs was expanded to a 16 team format in 1984.
Toyota Center is an indoor arena located in downtown Houston, Texas. It is named after the Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota. The arena is home to the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander first began to request a new arena in 1995, and attempted to release the Rockets from their lease at The Summit, which ran until 2003. However, he was denied by arena owner Chuck Watson, then-owner of the Aeros, who also wanted control of a new arena. The two sides agreed to equal control over an arena in a deal signed in 1997, but the proposal was rejected by city voters in a 1999 referendum. It was not until the city and the Rockets signed an amended agreement in 2001, excluding the Aeros, that the proposal was accepted.
Construction began in July 2001, and the new arena was officially opened in September 2003. The total costs were $235 million, with the city of Houston paying the majority, and the Rockets paying for enhancements. Toyota paid $100 million for the naming rights.
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The Rockets compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member club of the league’s Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its home games at the Toyota Center, located in downtown Houston. The Rockets have won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. The team was established as the San Diego Rockets, an expansion team originally based in San Diego, in 1967. In 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston.
San Diego – Houston
1967 – Present / National Basketball Association
1971 – Present / Houston Rockets
1967 – 1971 / San Diego Rockets
Rockets – The San Diego franchise nickname became the “Rockets”which used the name because it was a “city in motion” and due to the local development (General Dynamics) of the Liquid-fuel Atlas missile and booster rocket program. San Diego was the home to many space-age manufacturers. When the team eventually moved to Houston, the name still fit, given Houston’s association with NASA.
NBA Championships 2
2003 – Present / Toyota Center
1975 – 2003 / The Summit
1971 – 1975 / Hofheinz Pavilion
1967 – 1971 / San Diego Sports Arena
2017 – Present / Tilman Fertitta
1993 – 2017 / Leslie Alexander
1982 – 1993 / Charlie Thomas
1980 – 1982 / Gavin Maloof
1979 – 1980 / George J. Maloof, Sr.
1976 – 1979 / Kenneth Schnitzer
1975 – 1976 / James Talcott Incorporated
1973 – 1975 / Irvin Kaplan
1971 – 1973 / Billy Goldberg, Wayne Duddlesten, Mickey Herskowitz
1967 – 1971 / Robert Breitbard
11 Yao Ming
22 Clyde Drexler
23 Calvin Murphy
24 Moses Malone
34 Hakeem Olajuwon
45 Rudy Tomjanovich
CD Carroll Dawson
*Blue is this team’s history