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TO CELEBRATE the end of the 20th century, Rockets Blastoff is proud to present the Millennium Moments in Rockets History. These moments feature the 100 greatest shots, games and events that have made the Rockets franchise what it is today.


Hakeem Olajuwon and his Rockets teammates accept the Larry O'Brien championship trophy from NBA Commissioner David Stern after Houston's 90-84 Game 7 win over New York. (NBA Photos)
1. (June 22, 1994) As the crowd counted down the remaining seconds and his teammates celebrated all around him, Hakeem Olajuwon took a seat on the scorer's table and smiled. He was an NBA champion and the city of Houston finally had a championship to call its own. The Rockets captured their first NBA title by defeating the New York Knicks 90-84 in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals. "My celebration was to watch everybody being ecstatic, rejoicing, jumping on tables and hugging each other, showing emotion in their own way," said Olajuwon, the unanimous MVP of the Finals. He finished the game with 25 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots and then took turns hugging the Larry O'Brien championship trophy with his teammates and first-year owner Leslie Alexander. Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich and his former roommate Calvin Murphy, who had become Rockets for life via the 1970 NBA Draft, met on the court and hugged. "Houston, you've wanted this for so long. You've finally got it," Tomjanovich said later. "I'm proud to be part of a team that got it for you." And while most of Houston partied in the night, Olajuwon celebrated with a smile. "Champion! I always wanted be called a champion."


Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler celebrate winning the 1995 NBA title. (NBA Photos)
2. (June 14, 1995) One year after winning their first title, the Rockets became the fifth franchise in NBA history to repeat as champions. All it took was a major trade and one of the greatest runs in playoff history. After acquiring superstar Clyde Drexler from Portland in February, the Rockets limped into the playoffs as a No. 6 seed after a rash of injuries hit the team late in the season. They then surprised everybody by winning four straight playoff series against the teams with the best four records in the NBA. The Rockets completed their sweep of the Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals with a 113-101 Game 4 win to become the lowest playoff seed ever to win an NBA title.

3. (May 21, 1986) Ralph Sampson thought it was short. Robert Reid thought it was ugly. And Magic Johnson thought it was overtime. Then it went in! With one second left and the score tied at 112, Sampson made one of the most unbelievable shots in NBA history to send the Rockets past the defending-NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and into the 1986 NBA Finals. With his back to the basket, Sampson jumped up, caught the inbounds pass, spun around and flicked the ball toward the basket in less than a second. The ball hit the rim, went high in the air, and came back down through the net for a 114-112 win in Game 5 of the 1986 Western Conference Finals.


Hakeem shows his power in his Rockets home debut. (NBA Photos)
4. (June 19, 1984) In a draft that featured Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton, the Rockets took just 39 seconds of their allotted five minutes to write down Hakeem Olajuwon's name on a sheet of paper and hand it to NBA Commissioner David Stern. In the 16 seasons since then, Olajuwon has led the Rockets to two NBA championships and has become one of the greatest players ever to play in the NBA. In 1994, he became the only player ever to win Defensive Player of the Year, NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP in the same season. He entered the 1999-2000 season as the Rockets' all-time leader in 21 regular-season and playoff statistical categories.

5. (May 22- June 1, 1995) David Robinson was in the wrong place at the wrong time. For six games during the 1995 Western Conference Finals, the reigning NBA MVP was standing between Hakeem Olajuwon and the basket. Olajuwon used a variety of fakes, hooks and Dream Shakes to drive past, escape from, and score over Robinson and the Spurs' double-and-triple teams. In the series, Olajuwon outscored Robinson 212-146, pouring in 40 or more points in three of the games. Olajuwon cemented himself as one of the greatest basketball players of all time by turning in one of the most dominant individual performances in NBA history. "He (Robinson) worked so hard to keep up with all my fakes, but he couldn't," Olajuwon said. "I was at my best."

6. (Oct. 25, 1976) He was acquired because the Rockets brass thought his defense would help them contend for a Central Division title. His scoring and rebounding ended up leading them to the brink of an NBA championship. The Rockets sent two first-round draft choices and cash to the Buffalo Braves for center Moses Malone and then watched him become virtually unstoppable. In six seasons with the Rockets, Malone averaged 24.0 points and 15.0 rebounds and was named NBA MVP twice (1979 and 1982). He still holds 22 Rockets regular-season and playoff records.


Hakeem Olajuwon helps rename Houston "Clutch City" as the Rockets win two games at Phoenix in the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals. (NBA Photos)
7. (May 13-15, 1994) Two hours after blowing the biggest lead in NBA playoff history, the Rockets flew out of Choke City down 0-2 to the Phoenix Suns. Four days later, the Rockets flew into Clutch City with the series tied 2-2. In Game 1 of the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals, Houston built an 18-point lead but lost. In Game 2, they had a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter but lost in overtime. "I'll never forget getting on the charter flight after Game 2," Rockets television commentator Bill Worrell said. "It was like a morgue." The Rockets didn't rise from the dead until the second half of Game 3 when they found themselves behind 49-41 at halftime. Then Vernon Maxwell got hot, scoring 31 points in the second half as the Rockets won 118-102. Houston finished "Desert Sweep" by winning Game 4, 107-96, to even the series.

8. (Feb. 14, 1995) On Valentine's Day, Rockets fans got a sweet surprise when hometown hero Clyde Drexler was acquired from Portland. "I still can't believe it," Hakeem Olajuwon said when informed of the trade. "In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would happen. It's too good to be true." In the 1995 NBA Playoffs, Drexler and his former University of Houston teammate Olajuwon formed an unstoppable 1-2 punch as the Rockets claimed their second consecutive NBA title. "It was great to win the championship in the place where it all began," Drexler said.

9. (May 20, 1995) Everybody expected Mario Elie to throw the ball to Hakeem Olajuwon, but Elie had a feeling he was going to be the one to kiss the Phoenix Suns goodbye. With the score tied at 110 late in Game 7 of the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals, Robert Horry spotted Elie across the floor in perfect position to get the ball to Olajuwon. "Dream was wide-open, but I had my feet set. I let it go and it felt good," Elie said. As his shot swished through the net, he ran toward the Suns' bench and blew a kiss to let them know the game was over. The Rockets won 115-114.

10. (May 20, 1992) The Rockets' front office decided that Rudy Tomjanovich's discipline and basketball knowledge would make him a good head coach. They were wrong; it made him a great one. Including his 16-14 record as interim head coach during the last part of the 1991-92 season, Tomjanovich has compiled the best record ever by a Rockets head coach (353-219 going into the 1999-2000 season). In the postseason, he has led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships, while amassing the most playoff wins (51) by a Rockets head coach.


Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich were both named to the Rockets 30-Year Team. (NBA Photos)
11. (June 1970) The San Diego Rockets went into the 1970 NBA Draft wanting to find players that could contribute immediately. Twenty-nine years later, draft picks Rudy Tomjanovich and Calvin Murphy are still contributing to the Rockets franchise. After being selected in the first and second rounds, respectively, the duo spent the next 11 seasons as teammates and roommates until Tomjanovich retired in 1981. Today, Tomjanovich is the head coach of the Rockets, while Murphy is the Rockets' community services advisor and a commentator on Rockets television broadcasts.

12. (June 19, 1994) A championship block. With the Rockets leading 86-84 and 5.5 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals, New York Knicks guard John Starks had a seemingly wide-open three-pointer. The ball was barely out of Starks' hands when Hakeem Olajuwon came out of nowhere to block it and send the series to Game 7. "They were running the pick and roll, so I tried to stay close to the ball," Olajuwon said. "When I saw him open for the three, I fell trying to get out to him. Then I recovered and ran out and blocked the shot."

13. (May 10, 1993) All Calvin Murphy ever wanted to do was start for his high school basketball team. He ended up in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1993, Murphy became the first player to spend his entire career with the Rockets and be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 5-9 guard finished his career 42nd on the all-time NBA scoring list and 17th in scoring average. He still holds the NBA record for the highest free throw percentage in one season (.958, 1980-81).


The Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon No. 1 in the 1984 NBA Draft and then paired him with Ralph Sampson to form the "Twin Towers." (NBA Photos)
14. (May 23, 1984) NBA Commissioner David Stern flipped the coin, Portland Trail Blazers owner Larry Weinberg called tails, and when the coin came up heads on the carpet the Rockets had won the No. 1 pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. Rockets publicity director Jim Foley left no doubt whom the team would select when he took off his jacket, shirt and tie to reveal a red T-shirt with the word "Akeem" across the chest. Rockets Head Coach Bill Fitch couldn't contain his excitement when he started to think about Olajuwon and 1983 No. 1 pick Ralph Sampson in the same frontcourt. "I don't know a coach who would tell you that Olajuwon and Sampson can't play together in the same lineup," Fitch said. "Then again, we could cut them in half and make four guards."

15. (June 23, 1971) Omaha may not be the Space City, but it almost had the Rockets. San Diego Rockets owner Robert Breitbard tried to move his team to Nebraska, but when the deal fell through, he ended up selling it to Texas Sports Investments. Rudy Tomjanovich was visiting family in Michigan when he found out that his new home would be in Houston. "I had visions of tumbleweeds," he said. Since coming to Houston in 1971, the Rockets have compiled an 1178-1086 record, won four division titles and captured two NBA championships.

16. (April 29, 1981) After upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs, Moses Malone wasn't about to let the Kansas City Kings keep him and the Rockets from reaching the 1981 NBA Finals. With the Rockets up 3-1 in the series, Malone made sure there would be no miracles in Missouri as he poured in 36 points in the Rockets' 97-88 series-clinching win. Calvin Murphy, who had been with the Rockets since 1970, cried tears of happiness. "This team is just amazing," Murphy said. "Every time we get in trouble, somebody jumps up and props us back up."

17. (May 11, 1994) For the first three quarters, the Rockets could do no wrong. In the fourth quarter they could do no right. Three days after blowing an 18-point lead and losing Game 1 of the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals to the Phoenix Suns, the Rockets lost a 20-point fourth-quarter lead and Game 2. The next day the Houston Chronicle renamed Houston "Choke City." The Rockets then used Houston's new moniker as a motivational tool and won two games in Phoenix to tie the series. "When Choke City came out, nobody believed in us but ourselves," Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "It was nice to prove all those people wrong."

18. (May 19, 1983) The Rockets offered the Indiana Pacers a package of players, draft picks and a million dollars in cash for the No. 1 pick in the 1983 NBA Draft. The Pacers turned it down, preferring to take their chances on a flip of the coin. They lost. The Rockets called heads on the advice of owner Charlie Thomas' daughter Tracy and won, immediately letting it be known they wanted University of Virginia center Ralph Sampson.


Mario Elie hugs Hakeem Olajuwon after the Rockets won Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals. (NBA Photos)
19. (June 7, 1995) The Orlando Magic thought they had it won in the second quarter, should have won it in the fourth quarter, and watched it all slip away in overtime. The Magic held a 20-point lead in the second period, but saw it shrink to 11 points going into halftime of Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals. Orlando held a 110-107 lead with 10.5 seconds left in the game when Nick Anderson missed four straight free throws to give the Rockets life. Kenny Smith then drilled his NBA Finals-record seventh three-pointer to send the game into overtime. The two teams played to an overtime score of 118-118 with mere seconds left. Clyde Drexler drove the lane but had to change his shot to avoid Shaquille O'Neal. Hakeem Olajuwon was in perfect position to tip in the miss and give the Rockets a 120-118 win. "Hakeem didn't know his shot had beat the buzzer until Mario (Elie) and I told him we had just won the game," Smith said.

20. (April 5, 1981) After barely making the 1981 NBA Playoffs, the Houston Rockets weren't supposed to put up much of a fight against the defending-NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. They ended up knocking


Sam Cassell drives to the basket in Game 3 of the 1994 NBA Finals. (NBA Photos)
them out. After splitting the first two games of the three-game series, the Rockets found themselves trailing 86-85 with 30 seconds left in the third contest. As the Rockets set up their offense, Mike Dunleavy found Calvin Murphy open, but the Lakers immediately swarmed him forcing Murphy to pass back to Dunleavy. He nailed the 15-footer giving the Rockets a one-point lead, a lead they would never relinquish in their 89-86 Game 3 win.

21. (June 12, 1994) At the end of Game 3 of the 1994 NBA Finals, the New York Knicks decided that Hakeem Olajuwon wasn't going to beat them. They didn't count on a rookie doing it. After trailing for most of the game, the Knicks took an 88-86 lead with 50 seconds remaining. Then Rockets first-year player Sam Cassell hit the biggest shot of his career when he received a pass from Olajuwon and nailed a three-pointer to give Houston an 89-88 lead with 32.6 seconds to go. Cassell then hit four straight free throws to give the Rockets a 93-89 win and a 2-1 lead in the series.


Clyde Drexler and the Rockets win another road game in the 1995 NBA Playoffs. (NBA Photos)
22. (1995 NBA Playoffs) In the 1995 NBA Playoffs, the Rockets just couldn't wait to get on the road again. Houston set an NBA playoff record with seven straight road wins en route to the 1995 NBA championship. The Rockets won two games in Phoenix, three in San Antonio and two in Orlando as they went 11-2 overall to close out their playoff run.

23. (May 5, 1995) On the brink of elimination, the Rockets' two best players combined for one huge night. Clyde Drexler scored 41 points on 12-of-18 shooting, while Hakeem Olajuwon scored 40 points by connecting on 14-of-22 shots from the field as the Rockets pulled even with the Utah Jazz with a 123-106 win in Game 4 of the First Round of the 1995 NBA Playoffs.

24. (April 21, 1996) Get that out of here! For the 3,190th time in his career, Hakeem Olajuwon sent a shot back from which it came, breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA record for blocked shots on the last day of the 1995-96 season. "Sometimes I love to block shots more than score," Olajuwon said. "It gives you a special feeling." Phoenix's A.C. Green tried to avoid that feeling by head-faking twice while under the basket. Olajuwon was still able to get a piece of Green's shot and become the most prolific shot-blocker in NBA history.

25. (May 7, 1995) The Houston Rockets owned the fourth quarter. After trailing 71-59 with a minute to go in the third quarter, the Rockets used some timely defense and the shooting touch of Hakeem Olajuwon to win Game 5 of the First Round of the 1995 NBA Playoffs 95-91 over Utah. The Rockets were down seven with 4:49 to go in the fourth quarter when an Olajuwon jumper sparked a 10-0 run, which saw the Rockets take an 85-82 lead with 1:44 to play. Olajuwon scored the last six points of the run, two of which came on a dunk over three Jazz players. Olajuwon finished the day with 33 points followed by Clyde Drexler with 31.


Charles Barkley meets the media after being traded to Houston. (NBA Photos)
26. (Aug. 19, 1996) If you can't beat them, join them. That's exactly what Charles Barkley did when the Rockets traded Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Chucky Brown and Mark Bryant to the Phoenix Suns to acquire the perennial All-Star. Barkley, whose Suns teams had lost to the Rockets in the 1994 and 1995 NBA Playoffs, had been pushing to be traded to Houston ever since the 1995-96 season ended. "This is the best team on paper that I've ever been on," Barkley said. "No doubt in my mind."

27. (1993-94) Hakeem Olajuwon left no doubt that 1994 was his year by becoming the first player ever to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, the NBA MVP and the NBA Finals MVP in the same season. "Hakeem is one of the four greatest centers in the history of basketball," Hall of Fame center Bill Walton said. "He's there with Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He's the epitome of what it takes to be a franchise player. Hakeem is the kindest man off the court and the fiercest warrior on it."


Elvin Hayes meets San Diego Rockets owner Robert Breitbard after the 1968 NBA Draft. (NBA Photos)
28. (June 1968) The San Diego Rockets knew if they wanted to win in the NBA, they were going to have to get more scoring and rebounding. They got it immediately when they selected Elvin Hayes with the No. 1 pick in the 1968 NBA Draft. In his first four years with the Rockets, Hayes averaged 27.4 points and 16.3 rebounds. Hayes still holds 15 Rockets rookie records and the NBA rookie record for minutes played (3,695, an average of 45 minutes per game).

29. (April 17, 1981) Calvin Murphy started Game 7 of the 1981 Western Conference Semifinals on fire and kept burning the Spurs until the Rockets had a 105-100 win. Murphy had 28 points at halftime, but the Rockets still trailed 66-57. After the break, the duo of Murphy and Moses Malone combined to give the Rockets a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter. The two teams then traded baskets until Robert Reid's baseline jumper with 1:21 remaining clinched the game for the Rockets, but it was Murphy's hot hand that made the difference in the contest. Murphy finished the game with 42 points on 19-of-28 shooting.

30. (Oct. 29, 1996) The Rockets were well represented when the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History were announced. A total of seven current or former Rockets made the list with Hakeem Olajuwon being the only player that had spent his entire career with the Rockets franchise. "He can do so much," said Wilt Chamberlain, who was also named to the list. "I watch him shoot that turnaround, and say to myself, 'He's the only one out there doing the things that I could do.' " Other players who made the list that have played or are still playing for the Rockets include Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Clyde Drexler, Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone and Scottie Pippen.


Otis Thorpe scores in the 1994 Western Conference Finals. (NBA Photos)
31. (May 31, 1994) How was the West won? Team defense, three-pointers and team play. The Rockets used eight three-pointers to jump out to a 24-point lead after three quarters, then had to hang on for dear life as the Utah Jazz mounted an amazing comeback in Game 5 of the 1994 Western Conference Finals. The Jazz cut the lead to eight, but Robert Horry and Hakeem Olajuwon made sure they wouldn't get any closer as the Rockets reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1986 with a 94-83 victory to claim the 1994 Western Conference title.

32. (June 15, 1982) There was no suspense when the NBA announced its 1982 MVP, but there would have been pandemonium if anybody but Moses Malone had won it. All Malone did was finish second in the league in scoring (31.1 points per game) and win the rebounding title (14.7). "Moses was always getting ganged up on," Rockets Head Coach Del Harris said. "But night in and night out, he went out there and was able to come through with the kind of all-star performance that got us all the way to the Finals last season."

33. (Dec. 2, 1993) The New York Knicks talked the talk, then they watched the hottest team in the NBA walk the walk. The 1993-94 Houston Rockets tied the NBA record for consecutive wins to start a season by defeating the trash-talking Knicks 94-85 for their 15th straight win. "There's no excuses, we just got our butts kicked," Knicks Head Coach Pat Riley said. "We were ready to play them yesterday. Unfortunately, the game was today. You've got to walk your talk a little and we didn't." Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets with 37 points and 13 rebounds, while holding Knicks center Patrick Ewing to just 12 points.


Clyde Drexler helps the 1994-95 Rockets become the lowest-seeded team ever to win the NBA title. (NBA Photos)
34. (June 14, 1995) What do the 1994-95 Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz have in common? They all lost to the 47-35 Houston Rockets in the 1995 NBA Playoffs. The No. 6 Rockets became the lowest seed ever to win the NBA title when they swept the Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals. "Every team we beat could have been champion of the league," Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. The Rockets also became the first team to ever win four playoff series against opponents who had 50 or more regular season wins.

35. (Dec. 27, 1980 - Feb. 28, 1981) The ball felt good when he let it go, but somewhere between his fingertips and the rim, the ball veered right and took with it a piece of history. Calvin Murphy saw his NBA record for consecutive free throws end at 78 when he missed a technical foul shot against the San Antonio Spurs. For 78 times prior to that, he followed his shot to the bottom of the net as he obliterated the old NBA record of 60 set by Rick Barry in 1976.

36. (May 7, 1981) After losing Game 1 of the 1981 NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, the Rockets took a different approach in Game 2. "I decided that when I went up for a rebound, if I came down and someone was under me swatting at the ball, I was going to knock him through the floor," Moses Malone said. Malone used his new mindset to score 31 points and grab 15 rebounds as the Rockets won their first-ever NBA Finals game 92-90. Calvin Murphy chipped in 10 points.

37. (June 1979) Even when the Rockets missed a shot during the 1978-79 season, chances were good they were still going to score on that trip down the floor. Moses Malone kept the Rockets' scoring up by setting an NBA record for offensive rebounds in a season (587). Once Malone got the ball he usually put it in the basket, averaging 24.8 points while leading the league in rebounding with 17.6 boards per game. For his efforts, Malone was named the 1979 NBA MVP. "I remember he wanted to thank Calvin (Murphy), Rudy (Tomjanovich) and the rest of his teammates for missing all those shots," Rockets radio commentator Jim Foley said.

38. (June 1, 1983) After one NBA championship and three Atlantic Division titles in Boston, Bill Fitch decided he needed a challenge. He found the biggest one in the NBA when he accepted the head coaching position for the 14-68 Houston Rockets. Of course, Fitch knew that Ralph Sampson was about to come aboard as the No. 1 pick in the 1983 NBA Draft. In five seasons with the Rockets, Fitch compiled a 216-194 record and led the team to a Midwest Division title and the 1986 NBA Finals.

39. (May 21, 1994) From Choke City to Clutch City to the 1994 Western Conference Finals. The Rockets completed their comeback from an 0-2 deficit in the Western Conference Semifinals by winning Game 7 104-94 over the Phoenix Suns. "I'm so proud of this team, especially with the gigantic hole that we had to crawl out of," Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "This team has done it all year long." Hakeem Olajuwon led Houston with 37 points and 17 rebounds followed by rookie Sam Cassell with 22 points and seven assists.

40. (June 28, 1983) The Rockets' selection of Ralph Sampson with the No. 1 pick in the 1983 NBA Draft didn't shock anyone. That would come later with the third pick. Houston grabbed the All-American Sampson with its first pick, 20 seconds after the draft began. The Rockets then took Louisville forward Rodney McCray at No. 3 even though he had averaged less than 10 points over his collegiate career. "I put the NBA and the draft out of my mind last season," McCray said. "I just concentrated on being a team player." The Rockets liked his team-first attitude and the way he scored at the postseason all-star games enough to use the draft pick they received in the Moses Malone trade with Philadelphia on him.

41. (Feb. 18, 1992) When he was first offered the position of interim head coach of the Rockets, Rudy Tomjanovich didn't want it. Fellow assistant coach Carroll Dawson's health problems prevented him from taking over, so the job was offered to Rudy T. "I really loved being an assistant coach," he said. "I didn't want the spotlight." But then Dawson helped change his mind. "Carroll told me, 'If you don't take it, they could bring in a whole new staff and we might not even have a job.' " He then accepted the interim position and led the Rockets to a 16-14 record over the last 30 games of the 1991-92 season.


Rockets owner and president Leslie Alexander celebrates winning the 1994 NBA championship. (NBA Photos)
42. (July 30, 1993) Leslie Alexander let it be known right away that he was going to be a different type of owner. At a press conference to announce that he had just purchased the Houston Rockets, Alexander said he "would like to be the most charitable owner in the league," and he wanted to upgrade the team immediately. Since then, Alexander has made sure that the Rockets give back to the community. The Rockets' Clutch City Foundation has donated nearly $5 million to charities in the Houston area since it was founded in 1995. He has also kept up his promise of constantly trying to build a better basketball team. "He has always been supportive of everything we've done," Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.

43. (May 25, 1994) After being presented with the 1994 NBA MVP trophy before Game 2 of the 1994 Western Conference Finals, Hakeem Olajuwon wanted to make sure that people understood that others had a lot to do with his success. He asked his teammates and coaches to join him at midcourt as he made his acceptance speech. "As you know, this is a team sport," he said, "so I would like to extend my gratitude to my teammates. And also my coaches." Olajuwon was voted the league's Most Valuable Player after averaging 27.3 points and 11.9 rebounds.


Kenny Smith ties Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals with seconds remaining. (NBA Photos)
44. (June 7, 1995) As soon as Kenny Smith saw he was open, he knew he was about to send Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals to overtime. With 5.6 seconds left in the game and the Rockets trailing 110-107 to the Orlando Magic, Smith hit one of the biggest shots in Rockets history. "I got the ball, dribbled a little, then faked Penny (Anfernee Hardaway)," Smith said. "When I saw the basket, I knew I was going to make the shot." Smith drilled his NBA Finals-record seventh three-pointer to tie the game at 110 with 1.6 seconds left in regulation. The Rockets ended up winning the game 120-118 in overtime after trailing by as many as 20 points in the second quarter.

45. (May 16, 1995) Bill Worrell could tell something was wrong with Clyde Drexler the minute he saw him. "I've never seen an individual that sick in my life," the Rockets' television commentator said. Suffering from a bad case of the flu, Drexler made it to the arena 30 minutes before game time and put on his uniform. The Rockets, trailing 3-1 to Phoenix in the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals, were amazed that Drexler was going to play. He didn't play his usual amount of minutes, but Houston got 31 points from Hakeem Olajuwon to claim a 103-97 overtime win in Game 5 of the series.

46. (March 29, 1981) On the last day of the 1980-81 season, there were no bigger fans of the Seattle SuperSonics than the Houston Rockets. After winning four out of its last five games, Houston still needed Seattle to beat Golden State in order to make the playoffs. The Sonics won and the Rockets squeaked into the postseason, eventually reaching the 1981 NBA Finals.


Hakeem Olajuwon scores another basket on his way to helping the 1993-94 Rockets to the best record in franchise history. (NBA Photos)
47. (1993-94) After tying for the best start in NBA history, the Rockets finished the 1993-94 season with the franchise's best record ever. Houston used a 15-0 start to catapult itself to the top of the Midwest Division, finishing with a 58-24 record. That mark topped the team's previous best of 55-27 in the 1992-93 season.

48. (March 29, 1990) Quadruple the performance. Quadruple the fun. Against the Milwaukee Bucks, Hakeem Olajuwon became the third person in NBA history to register a quadruple-double by finishing the night with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 11 blocked shots. "It's a very big accomplishment for me," Olajuwon said. "I believe I'm a complete player." There would have been no arguing that point if he had stopped at halftime when he had 16 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks and four assists. A Lewis Lloyd jumper with 2:50 to play gave Olajuwon his 10th assist of the night to complete the milestone.


Vernon Maxwell starts the Rockets on the road to Clutch City. (NBA Photos)
49. (May 13, 1994) Down by 12 points at halftime in Game 3 of the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals, Vernon Maxwell turned the Rockets into road warriors. After losing the first two games of the series to the Suns at home, Maxwell made sure Houston wouldn't go down 0-3 in Phoenix by scoring 31 second-half points to lead the Rockets to a 118-102 win. "We are back," Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "Phoenix still has home-court advantage, but the pressure is on them now. And it's a lot different playing when you're under pressure."

50. (March 18, 1978) Calvin Murphy scored 32 points in the first half and then got even hotter in the fourth quarter. Murphy scored the Rockets' last 17 points to give him a team-record 57 points for the game, but the New Jersey Nets were still able to grab a 106-104 win. Murphy finished the game 24-of-40 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free throw line.

51. (May 8, 1993 - May 20, 1995) Phoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson warned his teammates that the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals weren't over even though they had just taken a 3-1 lead over the Houston Rockets. "The heart of a champion doesn't die easily," he said. "In fact it doesn't die at all. You've got to find a way to snuff it out." Houston's heart proved to be too strong for Phoenix as the Rockets won three straight games to win the series and run their consecutive streak of elimination game victories to eight. In fact, from 1993 to 1995, Houston had a 10-1 record in elimination games with the only loss coming in overtime at Seattle in 1993. "We just felt, if our opponent took a shot to win the game, and even if it looked like it was going to go in the net, it still wasn't over," Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We felt that a draft was going to come and blow it off course. We just never gave up."

52. (May 14, 1993) It came to no one's surprise that Hakeem Olajuwon was named 1993 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He led the league in blocked shots (4.17 per game) and was the leader of a Rockets defense that finished third in the NBA in points allowed and field-goal percentage. "It's a big honor," he said. "It's something you take pride in because not everybody likes to play defense."


Calvin Murphy currently serves as the Rockets' Community Services Advisor and Rockets' TV analyst. (NBA Photos)
53. (1980-81) It was a year of streaks for Calvin Murphy. During the 1980-81 season, Murphy had consecutive free throw streaks of 44, 78 and 29, making 151-of-154 free throws at one point. He ended up missing only nine-of-215 free throw attempts all season, setting an NBA record for free throw percentage (.958). "I think being 5-9 has made me the player I am," Murphy said. "It's forced me to work twice as hard to succeed, since I know no one is going to give me anything."

54. (May 1, 1972) Ray Patterson didn't waste any time changing the Rockets lineup. Two months after becoming the general manager and president of the Rockets, he traded Elvin Hayes to the Baltimore Bullets for Jack Marin. Patterson's deals over the next four years helped bring the Rockets their first-ever division title in the 1976-77 season, the same year he was named NBA Executive of the Year. Patterson's tenure with the Rockets saw the acquisition of Moses Malone and the drafting of John Lucas, Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon.

55. (May 14, 1987) The Seattle SuperSonics started out double-teaming him. By the end of the night, it seemed the entire Seattle team was trying to stop Hakeem Olajuwon. Nothing worked. Olajuwon scored 49 points to set a Rockets playoff record, but the Sonics were still able to win Game 6 of the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals 128-125 in double overtime. "Of all the guys I've played against in my career," 35-year-old Seattle center Maurice Lucas said, "Hakeem was the most successful guy against a group defense that I have ever seen."


The Rockets selected Rodney McCray with the draft choice they received in the Moses Malone trade with Philadelphia.
56. (Sept. 15, 1982) Goodbye Moses. Hello future. After matching the Philadelphia 76ers' offer to Moses Malone, the Rockets decided to trade him to the 76ers for a chance to get the No. 1 pick in the 1983 NBA Draft. In the deal, the Rockets acquired center Caldwell Jones and a first-round draft pick that the 76ers had obtained from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had finished with the worst record in the NBA the season before. The Rockets ended up getting the No. 1 pick (Ralph Sampson) in the 1983 NBA Draft by virtue of finishing with the worst record in the league and the No. 3 pick (Rodney McCray) from the trade

57. (March 3, 1998) Hakeem Olajuwon had a hard time grasping that he had just broken Calvin Murphy's team record of 1,002 games played. "A thousand games? Wow," he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity to play 1,000 games, especially with the same team. That's quite an accomplishment." Olajuwon led the Rockets to a 107-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in his 1,003rd game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.


Eddie Johnson evened up the 1997 Western Conference finals with the Jazz at 2-2 with his dramatic three-pointer. (NBA Photos)
58. (May 25, 1997) First there was silence, then a swish followed by pandemonium. A sellout crowd collectively held its breath as Rockets forward Eddie Johnson launched a shot from four feet behind the three-point line as time was running out in Game 4 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals. The 92-92 tie and the quiet were soon broken as Johnson's prayer hit nothing but net as the buzzer went off. "When it left my hand, it felt good," he said. "When it got halfway there, I thought, 'That baby has a chance to go in.' " That baby gave the Rockets a 95-92 win over the Utah Jazz and sent Johnson and his teammates on a dead sprint to the other end of the court in celebration.

59. (May 1984) It's unanimous. Ralph Sampson got all 76 first-place votes for 1984 NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds in his first season with the Rockets. "Ralph has a lot of maturing to do because he still makes a lot of errors, but he's going to be a great, great player," Rockets Head Coach Bill Fitch said.

60. (Feb. 12, 1989) It's been billed as the World's Greatest Playground Game and 44,735 people got to see it when the 39th NBA All-Star Game was played in the Astrodome in 1989. Utah's Karl Malone was named the game's MVP as he led the West squad to a 143-134 victory over the East. Hakeem Olajuwon, who was the Rockets' lone representative and the starting center for the Western Conference, finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.


The Rockets fought their way to the team's second NBA Championship appearance against Boston in 1986.
(NBA Photos)
61. (June 5, 1986) Trailing 3-1 to the Celtics in the 1986 NBA Finals, the Rockets came out fighting for their playoff lives - literally. Early in the second quarter, with Houston holding a 34-33 lead, Ralph Sampson broke free of a Jerry Sichting hold and punched the Celtics guard twice. He then leveled Boston point guard Dennis Johnson as both benches cleared. The Rockets used the scuffle as an emotional lift to bury the Celtics 111-96 as Houston fans continued to shout, "We want Ralph" long after he had been tossed from the game. "I think our reaction to Ralph's ejection was we knew we had to unite," Rockets forward Jim Petersen said.

62. (April 26, 1981) Moses Malone missed 18 shots and still was able to lead the Rockets one step closer to the 1981 NBA Finals. Malone scored 42 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in Houston's 100-89 win over Kansas City in Game 5 of the 1981 Western Conference Finals. "We're asking Moses to be our top scorer, top rebounder and still play super defense," Rockets Head Coach Del Harris said. With the win, the Rockets took a 3-1 lead over the Kings in the series.

63. (May 8, 1986) Hakeem Olajuwon was ejected in the fourth quarter. Then Ralph Sampson and Jim Petersen fouled out in the first overtime, leaving Rodney McCray to lead a makeshift lineup to a 126-122 double-overtime win over Denver in Game 6 of the 1986 Western Conference Semifinals. McCray was able to send the game into the first overtime with a perfect alley-oop pass to Sampson with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter. After Sampson and Petersen left, the Rockets were forced to go with third-string center Granville Waiters, who contributed a key rebound and basket, and a rotation of guards and small forwards. McCray, who finished with 20 points, made big shot after big shot, including one with 55 seconds to go that clinched the win for the Rockets.

64. (March 17, 1984) As a player, Calvin Murphy gave everything he had to the Rockets, and in return they made certain no one would ever wear his No. 23 again. Murphy's No. 23 became the second number ever retired by the Rockets when it joined Rudy Tomjanovich's No. 45 in the rafters. Rockets forward Robert Reid said Murphy's jersey would serve as an inspiration. "I think every Rockets player who looks up at No. 23 from now on will think about what competitive spirit means. There has never been a better competitor than Murph."

65. (June 23, 1972) "I'm going to come back and haunt you guys." That was center Elvin Hayes' message to the Rockets front office after being traded to the Baltimore Bullets for Jack Marin and future considerations. Marin spent two seasons with the Rockets, averaging 15.6 points, while Hayes went on to be named to the All-NBA First Team or Second Team six times after the trade.

66. (April 29, 1995) The Rockets turned the Delta Center into a bomb shelter for Game 2 of the First Round of the 1995 NBA Playoffs. Houston hit an NBA playoff-record 19 three-pointers to destroy Utah 140-126 and even up the series. Kenny Smith finished the game with seven three-pointers, one short of the NBA playoff record. The Rockets finished the night 19-of-28 from way downtown and set NBA playoff marks for three-pointers in one half (11) and in a quarter (seven).


Robert Reid's 762 games with the Rockets are the fourth most in team history. (NBA Photos)
67. (April 1986) The Rockets started the 1985-86 season with John Lucas at point guard. Then they started Allen Leavell after Lucas left the team, but the promotion didn't last long thanks to a broken wrist 12 games later. "After that, coach (Bill Fitch) came up to me," Robert Reid said. "He told me I was his guy." Fitch made the right decision as the 6-7 Reid gave the Rockets a big lineup that led them to the 1986 NBA Finals.

68. (Oct. 11, 1988) Houston needed a power forward and they went out and got the best one available. The Rockets acquired Otis Thorpe, who had averaged 20.8 points and 10.2 rebounds the prior season, from Sacramento for Rodney McCray and Jim Petersen. Thorpe ended up playing seven seasons in Houston, averaging 15.8 points and 9.7 rebounds. He was also a key member of the Rockets' 1994 NBA title run.

69. (June 1976) John Lucas couldn't believe the Rockets were going to use the No.1 pick in the 1976 NBA Draft to select him. "My girlfriend said she had heard it and then the news media starting coming around. I couldn't believe they were going to pick me." It shouldn't have been a surprise to Lucas since the Rockets had been talking about him since they traded with Atlanta to acquire the pick. Lucas averaged 11.6 points and 7.3 assists in four different stints with the Rockets.

70. (Feb. 18, 1999) Seven months after leading a team of free agents and college and CBA players to the bronze medal in the 1998 World Championship of Basketball, Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich was named the head coach of the USA Basketball men's senior national team. "The opportunity to represent our country in international play is something very special," he said. Tomjanovich missed the 1999 Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico because of exhaustion, but he will coach at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

71. (Jan. 28, 1982) Back in 1970, NBA players or their wives cleaned their uniforms at home. When Sophie Tomjanovich took her husband's uniform out of the wash for the first time, she immediately noticed something was wrong. "I had never washed, cooked or done household chores before," she said. "The uniform was originally a beautiful, vivid green. When I finished washing it, it looked like someone had thrown mud on it." Rudy T. got a clean uniform the next day and for the next 11 years he wore one as a member of the Rockets. After his retirement in 1981, the Rockets decided that his No. 45 would be the first number retired to the rafters.


Moses Malone recorded 10 or more rebounds in 78-of-80 games during the 1980-81 season.
72. (May 11, 1981) Moses Malone felt that the Houston Rockets weren't getting any respect in the 1981 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, so he told everybody about it. "I could take four guys off the streets of Petersburg, Virginia (his hometown) and beat the Celtics." Boston didn't think so. The Celtics used Malone's words to inspire them to victories in Games 5 and 6, taking home the NBA championship. "I was just trying to pump my guys up," Malone said later.

73. (May 22, 1995) Robert Horry was so wide-open that he had time to choose between a three-pointer and a 17-foot jump shot. He took the jumper and nailed his only field goal of the night with 6.5 seconds left to give the Rockets a 94-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the 1995 Western Conference Finals. The play was designed for Clyde Drexler on the block, but he passed out of it to Mario Elie, who threw it to Hakeem Olajuwon. "I saw Robert wide-open and gave him the ball," Olajuwon said. "He was our hero for the first game."


Rudy T. helped the Rockets down Washington 4-2 in the 1977 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
74. (April 20, 1976) Tom Nissalke wasn't the first head coach of the Rockets, but the franchise accomplished several inaugural feats after he was hired. Taking over before the 1976-77 season, Nissalke led the Rockets to their first winning season, first division title and first trip to the conference finals. In three seasons with the Rockets, Nissalke compiled a 124-122 record.

75. (1976-77) In his first training camp, Rockets Head Coach Tom Nissalke predicted his team would win between 38 and 40 games and squeeze into the playoffs. He was wrong. Houston made the playoffs after capturing the 1976-77 Central Division, the first division title for the franchise, with a team-record 49 wins.

76. (April 1, 1999) It was a shot he had hit a thousand times before, but this one was special. On this night, Hakeem Olajuwon took a pass from Scottie Pippen and hit a 13-foot jumper over Utah's Greg Ostertag for the 25,000th point of his career. With the basket, Olajuwon became the 12th player in NBA history to reach the 25,000-point plateau.


Charles Barkley averaged 12.3 rebounds per game in four seasons with the Rockets.
77. (Nov. 2, 1996) Charles Barkley didn't get mad; he got rebounds. Making his Rockets debut against the team that had traded him three months before, Barkley grabbed a career-high 33 rebounds in Houston's 110-95 win at Phoenix. "It was an emotional game for me," he said. "I was upset because I wanted to win so bad, and that's not really the way I want to play basketball." But on this night it worked, as Barkley set a Rockets record with 25 defensive rebounds.

78. ( Oct. 2, 1981) After 11 years with the Rockets, Rudy Tomjanovich began to hear whispers that he was going to be traded after an injury-plagued 1980-81 season. "I thought, 'This is great,' because it was just what I needed to motivate me," he said. "Then I came home and saw how comfortable my kids were in Houston. I wondered why I had to prove myself again and move them." He and the Rockets then reached a compromise on the last two years of his contract and he was given a chance to help the team as a scout. Tomjanovich retired as the Rockets' all-time leading rebounder and second all-time leading scorer.


Hakeem Olajuwon was the NBA Finals MVP in 1994 and 1995.
79. ( June 7-14, 1995) After annihilating the Western Conference in the 1995 NBA Playoffs, Hakeem Olajuwon decided to launch an offensive assault on the NBA Finals record book. In the 1995 NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic, Olajuwon set an NBA Finals record for a four-game series with 131 points. He also set records for field goals (56) and field goal attempts (116) and became only the fourth player to ever score 30 or more points in every game of a championship series.

80. (June 17, 1980) When Rockets Head Coach Del Harris offered Carroll Dawson an assistant coaching position in 1979, Dawson turned it down. When Harris came back with the same proposal the next season, Dawson accepted and has been with the Rockets ever since. He is the only person to coach on all four Rockets teams that reached the NBA Finals and has taught the nuances of the "big man" game to players such as Moses Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon. "CD has helped me so much," Olajuwon said. "His desire and knowledge of the game is all part of why he is such a great coach." Dawson is currently in his 20th season with the Rockets and his fourth as executive vice president of basketball.

81. (May 13, 1995) After losing the first two games of the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals to Phoenix by an average of 23 points, the Houston Rockets turned in the largest playoff win in franchise history. Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets with 36 points and 11 rebounds before sitting down after the third quarter in Houston's 118-85 Game 3 win. "If we play like this all the time, we'll be champions again," Olajuwon said.

82. (April 19, 1998) On the day the Rockets celebrated their 30th season in the NBA by naming an all-time team, they made certain to highlight one of their all-time greats. Moses Malone became the third player in Rockets history to have his number retired when No. 24 was placed next to Rudy Tomjanovich's No. 45 and Calvin Murphy's No. 23. "Moses is one of the original pioneers when it comes to this franchise being successful," Murphy said. "It was just a matter of time before they put his number up there in the rafters."

Ralph Sampson helped the Rockets to the 1985-86 Midwest Division title.
83. (April 4, 1986) Consider the rebuilding done. Two years after having back-to-back No. 1 picks in the NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets clinched the 1985-86 Midwest Division title with a 112-89 win over the Phoenix Suns. Led by Robert Reid's 20 points, the Rockets claimed the second division title in their 18-year history and first since the 1976-77 season. "We are the division champs," Hakeem Olajuwon said. "This is just the start. We want to win it all." The Rockets finished the season with a 51-31 record, the first 50-win season in franchise history.

84. (Feb. 9, 1979) He came. He saw. He cleaned the glass. Moses Malone set a Rockets franchise record with 37 rebounds against the New Orleans Jazz in a 106-99 win. Malone finished the game with 19 offensive and 18 defensive rebounds. "The ball just kept falling into my hands," he said. "Really, it was easy because the ball kept bouncing toward me all night."

85. (June 24, 1992) The experts thought it would be Harold Miner. The fans wanted it to be Harold Miner. So, when NBA Commissioner David Stern walked to the podium and announced that the Rockets had just taken Robert Horry with the 11th pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, there was shock, dismay and a loud chorus of boos. "We draft people that we think are going to fit our system the best," said Carroll Dawson, the Rockets executive vice president of basketball. "If we drafted on public opinion, I don't think we would be here very long." Horry turned out to be a key member of the Rockets' back-to-back championship teams with his shooting and defense.

88. (Feb. 11, 1982) After a while, it played like a broken record. A Rockets player would miss a shot and Moses Malone would be there again and again to grab the rebound. It happened so often, Malone set an NBA record with 21 offensive rebounds on a night he scored 38 points and pulled down 32 total rebounds in a 117-100 win over Seattle. "He's so dominant," Elvin Hayes said. "In my opinion, he's the best offensive rebounder to ever play the game."

90. (May 23, 1991) After Hakeem Olajuwon missed 25 games with an eye injury, many people were expecting to see the Rockets in the lottery. Instead, Rockets Head Coach Don Chaney was named 1991 NBA Coach of the Year for guiding the Rockets to a team-record 52 wins. In February, Chaney was named NBA Coach of the Month for leading the Rockets to a 9-3 record without Olajuwon. In March, the Rockets went 14-1 to make Chaney the first coach ever to win back-to-back NBA Coach of the Month awards.

93. (April 12, 1975) The Rockets unveiled a new strategy for the deciding game of the First Round of the 1975 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks. Knick guards Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe could score all they wanted; they just couldn't involve any of their teammates in the offense. "We wanted to take Bill Bradley out of the game," Rockets Head Coach John Egan said. "We can't lose with Frazier and Monroe going one-on-one unless they score 60 points." They didn't and the Rockets won their first playoff series in franchise history by defeating the Knicks 118-86. Rudy Tomjanovich led the Rockets with 25 points.


Rudy T. in action
94. (Aug. 2, 1993) One night in 1993, Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich found himself watching a Portland Trail Blazers game and saw a player he thought would fit in perfectly with his team. Five months later, Mario Elie was in a Houston uniform. He immediately started making a contribution with his hard-nosed defense and timely shooting. Elie was a key member of the Rockets' 1994 and 1995 championship teams, making the "Kiss of Death" three-pointer to win Game 7 of the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals against Phoenix.

96. (Nov. 2, 1975) After playing home games in the Astrohall, Astrodome and Hofheinz Pavilion, and in such cities as San Antonio, Waco and El Paso, the Rockets finally got a place to call their own. The Rockets won the first game in The Summit (now Compaq Center) 104-89 over Milwaukee as Rudy Tomjanovich scored 24 points in front of 7,142 people.

97. (June 9, 1995) The Orlando Magic had a difficult time scoring in Game 2 of the 1995 NBA Finals because they kept throwing the ball to Robert Horry. An NBA Finals-record seven times, in fact. Horry's thievery helped lead the Rockets to a 117-106 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series. "I kind of felt like I had a magnet on my hands out there," Horry said. "I was fortunate to step into the passing lanes, read their offense and play well."


Moses Malone
98. (Jan. 26-Feb.23, 1982) Moses Malone is hard to stop when he's just playing his regular game. He's impossible to stop when he gets "in the zone." For 13 straight games, no team could contain Malone as he scored 30 or more points in each contest to set a Rockets record. During the streak, he set another team record by scoring 40 or more points in three straight games.

99. (April 25, 1993) The Rockets needed to beat the Spurs to clinch the No. 2 seed in the 1993 Western Conference playoffs. They should have won, but a blown call gave them a 119-117 loss and home-court advantage for just the first round. The Rockets were leading 109-107 in the fourth quarter, when David Robinson tipped in a miss to send the game to overtime. Replays later showed the tip was after time had expired. In the 1993 Western Conference Semifinals, the Rockets lost 4-3 to the Seattle SuperSonics with the home team winning every game. Several Rockets players pointed to the San Antonio game as the inspiration for their 15-0 start to the 1993-94 season.

All 100 Millennium Moments in Rockets History can be found in the 1999-2000 Rockets Blastoff yearbook. To order your copy of Rockets Blastoff, hit the "Back" button on your browser and click on the yearbook icon.