Best of '08-'09 - Fan Edition
Fans weigh in with their favorite moments from the '08-'09 season
Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks played a big role in many of the Rockets' best moments from '08-'09.
Rockets.com Staff Writer
Houston - Before fully focusing our attention on the year to come, Rockets.com wants to spend just a little more time reflecting upon an extraordinarily memorable ’08-’09 campaign. Over the course of the next week we’ll be taking a look back at some of the top plays and most memorable moments from the previous season, before capping things off with an opportunity for you to get involved in a special project commemorating some of the truly transcendent moments in Rockets’ history.
So come along with us for this special stroll down memory lane as we celebrate the past while anxiously looking forward to the future. Today the fans take over, sharing their favorite moments from the '08-'09 season - with Rockets.com staff writer Jason Friedman adding a few comments here and there. And just in case you missed it, you can read about Jason's personal favorite here.
I went to the Cavs game at Toyota Center, February 26th. At the time, the Cavs were the runaway best team in the East. Meanwhile, Tracy McGrady had just been declared out for the season for Houston. Nobody knew what the Rockets were going to do.
So what happened?
The Rockets absolutely pasted LeBron and crew. Yao and Scola got board after board, Von Wafer got hot, and Artest drove LeBron crazy. He got so under LeBron's skin, guarding him with such physicality, that after halftime it seemed like LeBron just stopped trying to drive and turned into a (pretty average) long-range shooter. I think this was Artest's best game of the season. He didn't score that much, but he defended.
There was a point early in the fourth quarter when it was clear to everybody in the Toyota Center that the Rockets were going to win going away. It wasn't as loud as the playoff wins, and it wasn't as raucous as after the Wafer wraparound dunk in the regular-season Trail Blazers game, but it was a happy moment. Hard to explain, but the crowd was happy. You could feel it -- the Rockets faithful looking on and thinking, "You know, this season could get interesting."
Brian Bonner, Houston:
Aaron Brooks’ 30-point performance against the Suns March 6, 2009. It was supposed to be a battle of the bigs between Shaq and Yao (on Shaq’s birthday, no less) but Brooks and Steve Nash were the stars of the game. Brooks matched Nash shot for shot, 3 for 3, and finally AB won the game with a layup underneath Shaq's outstretched arm with 10 seconds left. I was at that game, and was on the endzone side that Brooks hit that layup. I’ve never been to a game where the entire crowd was hanging on every move of the ball. And when it went in... BOOM! I have a hard time believing it could get any more exciting than that game was. Definitely one of the top 10 events in my life.
(Jason says: Not surprisingly, we received quite a few emails about this game. Here's one of the excerpts I enjoyed the most: "As a fan that game was just beautiful to see. You always root for the young guys your team drafted and love seeing them grow in front of your eyes. This was one of those games from Aaron. As Nash kept lighting up the Rockets in the fourth quarter, Aaron kept doing the same... Not bad to have your coming out party against a 2-time MVP in Steve Nash. I always felt Aaron could be a special player but I never knew how good he could be until this game." Amen!
Shriram Bhat, Los Angeles:
Game 4 against the Blazers: For me Shane Battier has been one of my favorite players since his trade to the Rockets and a lot of times he gets heat from some fans for "not showing up in the box score" but the guy gets it done when it counts. Game 4 against the Blazers was a perfect example of his determination and value to the Rockets.
First off, late in the fourth quarter he hit a key 3-pointer in the midst of a Blazer run that gave the Rockets back some stability and confidence. I nearly jumped as high as Brian Cook did (meaning we both cleared about 1 inch off the ground) as the ball sailed through the net. But Battier was not done yet saving the Rockets. With seconds to go and the Blazers' Brandon Roy with the ball, Battier switched off Travis Outlaw and onto Roy, just in time to funnel Roy right into the help defense where Chuck Hayes was waiting to take the charge. Amd just in case there was no foul call, Battier made sure to block Roy's shot, effectively snuffing out any realistic chance the Blazers had of winning the series as the Rockets went up 3-1. Even though Game 6 officially won the series for the Rockets, Game 4 was the game where the Rockets put their foot down; something as a fan I have been waiting for the past 12 years.
I would have to say my favorite moment was Game 1 of the playoffs vs. the Lakers. I mean Yao goes out late in the game with 5 minutes left, and just the heart he showed to come back knowing how important it was for the team, the organization and the fans was amazing. Then it was equally incredible to see the rest of the Rockets rally around him to pull off a huge upset against the heavily favored Lakers. That was my favorite moment, because of the sheer love and passion for the game that was displayed by the Rockets, but most of all by Yao Ming. Miss him already.
(You're not alone, Freddy. The big fella will be sorely missed by everyone next season, and the passion and grit he showed in that stellar Game 1 performance go a long way in showing why Yao has become such a popular figure worldwide.
It's also worth noting that this game probably stands as my second-favorite of the season, just barely behind the Boston contest I wrote about yesterday. Yao's heroics certainly have something to do with that, but even more memorable were the looks on the players' faces as they ran off the court and into the locker room immediately after the game. The pride, joy and focus on display during that moment couldn't help but remind you of everything that made you fall in love with sports in the first place. In a way, it almost felt like my very own Norman Rockwell moment: a scene so pure and devoid of artifice that it deserved to be captured and preserved in a safe place where people from all over the world could reverently look upon it and be reminded of the unique brand of magic that exists when a group of people band together to accomplish something seemingly impossible.)
David Santos, Mexico
The best Houston Rockets game from last year... wow, It would have to be Game 4 between the Rockets and Lakers in the Playoffs.
I remember during halftime, the analysts on ABC were saying, "Okay guys, the Houston Rockets are completely tearing apart the L.A. Lakers, and they're doing it without Yao Ming or Tracy McGrady. What's the deal?"
Yao Ming was announced to be out for the rest of the playoffs. Sportscenter, PTI, Outside the Lines, every sports program was saying that the Lakers would finish off the Houston Rockets after Yao Ming's injury.
"I think everyone but us got the memo that we weren't supposed to show up today without Yao," Battier said. And that was completely true. The Rockets played like a true championship team, building a huge lead right from the start, leaving Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in awe as they saw a 6'0" point guard completely break down the Lakers defense, with 34 points. And who could forget Shane Battier making it rain from the 3-point line, with five 3-pointers?
The highlight of the game... would have to be the Aaron Brooks alley-oop at the half-time buzzer. You could see Sasha Vujajic looking in amazement as Aaron Brooks make the leap for the alley-oop, and that was priceless. That was the final dagger that the Rockets needed to finish off the Lakers, and to continue controlling the game until the final buzzer sounded, the Rockets 99, and the Lakers 87.
Though the Rockets lost the series to the eventual champs, they were the only team to give the Lakers real trouble, as well as pushing them to seven games.
That game, in my opinion, was the best game of the 08-09 season. LONG LIVE THE ROCKETS!!!!!!!!
(Couldn't have said it better myself. And while we're here, I can't think of a more ideal way to wrap things up than by referring you to this clever little video created by Muzzlewump - at least that's his Twitter screen name - which showcases AB's incredible shot in black and white, and super slo-mo. Where amazing happens, indeed!)