Vote For Your Rockets All-Decade Team of the 1980s
Celebrating 45 years of Houston Rockets Tradition
If the 1970s stood as the decade of the Rockets' rebirth in Houston, then surely the 1980s represented the era of a franchise finding out what life was like as a fully-formed, fully-realized team reaching NBA adulthood.
The '80s in Houston basketball began with an unexpected, bewildering and brilliant run to the '81 Finals, then brought such immense promise and potential a few years later that fans were right to dream of an impending dynasty being born right before their very eyes. With the good fortune of a pair of coin clips going the Rockets' way, Houston was suddenly home to the two best young big men in the game; a partnership of such titanic dimensions that it seemed only a matter of time before these twin towers lorded over the league.
Of course, part of burgeoning adulthood is the inevitable realization that life rarely, if ever, goes according to plan. Unseen and unexpected obstacles arise. Plans get scuttled. Dreams get dashed.
Those are tough lessons to learn and harder still to bounce back from. They leave an imprint that can be long-lasting, if not altogether permanent. But within those scars also lies perhaps the true key to full-fledged maturity: a realization that adversity and pain, when overcome, can be the bridge that one day leads to a future that's even bigger and brighter than ever before imagined.
That was certainly the story of the Rockets in the 1980s; a decade that brought with it both unforgettable players and indelible moments, all while setting the stage for the greater glory to come.
As part of the Rockets' 45th anniversary season and in an effort to pay homage to those memories, Rockets.com gave you the opportunity to select your team of the decade a squad that will be honored at halftime of Houston's February 28 game against Toronto. Below, you'll find the basics on the top candidates. Voting has now closed and will be revealed in the next coming days on rockets.com
Be sure to make your way to Toyota Center February 28th for the Rockets game against Toronto, when the franchise and its fans will pay tribute to the team of the 1980's that you selected.
As a special bonus, you can purchase a 45th anniversary pack for February 28th - Each ticket includes a 45th anniversary t-shirt and a large beer or soda for $45 on the lower level or $25 for the upper level of Toyota Center. BUY TICKETS
|Eric "Sleepy" Floyd||Allen Leavell||Lewis Lloyd|
Career: 12.8 ppg, 5.4 apg, 1.2 spg, .815 ft%
Averages with Rockets: 11.5 ppg, 5.4 apg
With Rockets: 1987-93
Best 80s season with Rockets (1988-89): 14.2 ppg, 8.6 apg, 1.5 spg, .373 3-pt%
Floyd arrived in Houston near the mid-way point of the 1987 season, giving the Rockets an explosive offensive option at the point guard position. "Sleepy" could heat up in a hurry, especially when his outside shot was falling as it during his first two full seasons in Houston.
Career: 9.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 1.3 spg, .834 ft%
Averages with Rockets: 9.9 ppg, 4.8 apg
With Rockets: 1979-89
Best 80s season with Rockets (1982-83): 14.8 ppg, 6.7 apg, 2.1 spg
Leavell and Reid were the only two players to appear on both of the Rockets teams that made it to the NBA Finals in the 1980s. Selected in the fifth round of the 1979 Draft, Leavell made the most of his ability, carving out a 10-year career (all with the Rockets) that saw him contribute steady production at the point guard position for the better part of a decade.
Career: 13.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, .524 fg%
Averages with Rockets: 14.8 ppg, 3.4 apg
With Rockets: 1983-87, 1989-90
Best 80s season with Rockets: (1985-86): 16.9 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.2 spg, .529 fg%
A dynamic scoring swingman, Lloyd was capable of putting points on the board in bunches, dazzling fans with his daring forays to the basket and circus shots. Lloyd put it all together during the Rockets' run to the Finals in '86, scoring nearly 17 points per game (accomplished while playing a shade under 30 minutes per game) to give Houston a potent offensive option along the wings to pair with the team's Twin Towers in the middle.
|John Lucas||Rodney McCray||Hakeem Olajuwon|
Career: 10.7 ppg, 7 apg, 1.4 spg
Averages with Rockets: 11.6 ppg, 7.3 apg
With Rockets: 1976-78, 1984-86, 1989-90
Best 80s season with Rockets (1985-86): 15.5 ppg, 8.8 apg, 1.2 spg
The first overall pick of the 1976 draft, John Lucas was a sweet-passing pure point guard blessed with an abundance of skill. His second stint with the Rockets (he played two seasons with Houston in the '70s before finishing his career in a Rockets uniform in 1990) was far and away his most successful from a team standpoint as his playmaking ability at the point position meshed perfectly with the extraordinary athleticism those Rockets teams possessed.
Career: 11.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.6 apg, .503 fg%
Averages with Rockets: 12.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg
With Rockets: 1983-88
Best 80s season with Rockets (1986-87): 14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.1 spg, .552 fg%
A rock-solid forward out of Louisville, McCray was the perfect complement to the Rockets' great teams of the mid-80s. McCray did whatever was necessary to win, whether that was defending opponents' best wing players, helping out on the boards, finishing in transition or making the perfect pass as demonstrated by his perfectly-placed inbounds pass to Sampson in the final second of the '86 Western Conference Finals that ultimately propelled Houston into the NBA Finals and still stands as one of the greatest, most memorable plays in league history
Career: 21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.1 bpg, 1.7 spg
Averages with Rockets: 22.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg
With Rockets: 1984-2001
Best 80s season with Rockets (1988-89): 24.8 ppg, 13.5, rpg, 3.4 bpg, 2.6 spg
No introduction necessary. The best player to ever don a Rockets uniform, Olajuwon was an absolute dynamo on both ends of the floor, doing things at the center position that hadn't been seen before and haven't been seen since. His impact was immediate as his arrival instantly transformed the Rockets into a force to be reckoned with, leading them to the playoffs his rookie season, then all the way to the NBA Finals the next. Just one of the endless reasons why Olajuwon truly was a "Dream" come true for Houston.
|Jim Petersen||Robert Reid||Ralph Sampson|
Career: 6.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Averages with Rockets: 7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg
With Rockets: 1984-88
Best 80s season with Rockets (1986-87): 11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.2 bpg, .511 fg%
With Olajuwon and Sampson manning the frontline, the Rockets already boasted big men who were the envy of the entire league with Jim Petersen added to the mix, they became even more formidable. Affectionately known as "The Ivory Tower" during his time in Houston due to his very light complexion, Petersen gave the Rockets incredible frontcourt depth off the bench, using his size and fierce determination to give opponents fits whenever Olajuwon or Sampson needed a breather. And when injuries took their toll on Sampson during the '86-'87 season, Petersen showed he could deliver when given starters' minutes, too, putting up career highs in points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage that season.
Career: 11.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.1 spg
Averages with Rockets: 11.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg
With Rockets: 1977-82, 83-88
Best 80s season with Rockets (1980-81): 15.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.2 apg, 2 spg, .8 bpg
A versatile, do-it-all guard, Reid was a key member of both Rockets teams that made NBA Finals appearances during the 1980s. He was the second leading scorer on the Houston squad that stunned the basketball world by reaching the Finals in 1981, then gave the Rockets a similarly significant boost by sliding over to man the team's point guard position late in the '86 season to help that club reign supreme in the Western Conference as well.
Career: 15.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Averages with Rockets: 19.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg
With Rockets: 1983-88
Best 80s season with Rockets (1983-84):
The second pillar of the Rockets' famed "Twin Towers" tandem, Sampson was a player ahead of his time. Standing tall at 7-4, Sampson had all the size one could ever want while possessing a wide-ranging skill set befitting a guard. Injuries ultimately derailed what was destined to be a sure-fire Hall of fame career, but not before Sampson put up numbers that earned him Rookie of the Year honors and four All-Star berths while he and Olajuwon struck fear in opponents as one of the most devastating frontcourt duos in NBA history.
Career: 10 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1 spg
Averages with Rockets: 10.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg
With Rockets: 1984-87, 1989-90
Best 80s season with Rockets (1989-90): 15.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 spg
Wiggins was a key cog off the Rockets' bench during the team's run to the 1986 NBA Finals, but his best season as a pro actually occurred a few years later. Given a chance in his fifth NBA season to man Houston's shooting guard position as a starter, Wiggins delivered solid numbers, posting career highs in scoring (15.5 ppg in just 28 minutes per game), rebounding and free throw percentage (.810).
|CLICK HERE TO REVIEW CANDIDATES FROM THE 1970's|