Talking Hoops with Bill Worrell and Matt Bullard: Part 2

Tuesday September 20, 2011 9:52 AM

Storytellers: Part 2

Bill Worrell and Matt Bullard reflect upon their favorite moments in Rockets' history

Jason Friedman

HOUSTON - Absolutely nothing in life is guaranteed (except perhaps absurd endings to overhyped boxing matches, and annual award show inanity).

That maxim is played out every day in every aspect of life and the basketball court is certainly no exception.

In 1986 the Houston Rockets appeared to be on the verge of becoming the NBA’s next great dynasty. Akeem (as he was then known) Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson stood tall as the Rockets’ Twin Towers and were just beginning to tap into their seemingly unlimited potential as the titanic core of Houston’s burgeoning basketball superpower. Rodney McCray, Lew Lloyd, Mitchell Wiggins, Robert Reid, John Lucas and Jim Peterson, meanwhile, combined to form the rock-solid supporting cast that accompanied them. Everything seemed in place to ensure a dominant Rockets run through the next five years (at least).

When Houston steamrolled the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the Western Conference Finals that year, it felt as if the Rockets were announcing not only their arrival, but their intention to stay atop the NBA mountain for years to come. And even their eventual fall in the Finals to the Boston Celtics did little to dampen spirits and enthusiasm in Houston because the Rockets’ multiple title winning future seemed not just destined, but right around the corner.

While the multiple titles did, in fact, arrive, their arrival certainly couldn’t have been classified as “right around the corner.” Injuries and off-court issues sabotaged that squad and it wasn’t until eight years later that a remixed and reloaded Rockets team would rally around Olajuwon to reach, and ultimately surpass, the dizzying heights Houston’s hoops fans had experienced in 1986.

That cautionary tale and the elation that eventually arrived is the subject of today’s roundtable discussion with Rockets’ broadcasters Bill Worrell and Matt Bullard.

Check back tomorrow for part three of the series. And if you missed out on part one, click here to catch up.

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