November 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Rockets release 50th Anniversary Team History Book

Houston Rockets 50th Anniversary Team History Book

I’ve been anticipating this for awhile. The Houston Rockets have released their new 50th Anniversary coffee table book that covers the history of Houston’s basketball franchise.

Our good friend Jeff Balke wrote several of the articles found in the book, entitled Celebrating 50 Seasons: The Official History of the Houston Rockets. Jeff would text me every so often during the writing process to say, “I just had lunch with Tracy McGrady!” or “Robert Horry just called me!” — so I’ve really been riding the fantasy and looking forward to seeing the finished product.

And that’s what this book does for Rockets fans — it geeks them straight out. In a nutshell, this thing is awesome. It covers everything from the team’s inception to the Twin Towers to Clutch City to today’s Harden-led Rocket squads.

The book is full of interesting stories, but there are also hundreds of photographs and some of them are just bananas. You’ll find a shot of Rick Adelman in a facemask as a Rocket in 1968 looking an awful lot like Hannibal Lecter, coaching legend Pat Riley in his playing days with the franchise and a rare, candid shot of Moses Malone after re-signing with the Rockets in 1979. There’s even a full-page picture of Joe Barry Carroll, folks. It’s that thorough.

The book contains spotlight profiles on Moses, Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming, among others. The stories are entertaining, like this excerpt about the 1995 Western Conference Finals when Olajuwon dominated regular season MVP David Robinson. Rudy Tomjanovich said he wondered how Olajuwon felt watching Robinson get the MVP trophy after Hakeem won it in 1994 and that “we found out very quickly” by how he played. But the greatest Rocket ever denied it.

Olajuwon swears it has nothing to do with an MVP trophy but instead was in response to the skill of his competitor. “You had to get him off balance, come up with a counter and a counter just to get a shot off,” he said of Robinson. “He forced my creativity to the highest level.”

His teammates didn’t buy it. “I love Dream,” Horry said, “but Dream is lying.”

The book retails for $50 and is currently available exclusively at The Rockets Shop at Toyota Center in the month of November. Starting in December, it will be available in book stores.

Photos from the book

Elvin Hayes, Rick Adelman, Pat Riley and the 1968-69 San Diego Rockets
Rick Adelman Pat Riley Elvin Hayes San Diego Rockets

Table of Contents
Houston Rockets 50th Anniversary Book - Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler

“Akeem” Olajuwon
Houston Rockets 50th Anniversary Book - Akeem Olajuwon

Tracy McGrady 13 in 33
Houston Rockets 50th Anniversary Book - Tracy McGrady Yao Ming

Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley
Houston Rockets 50th Anniversary Book - Steve Francis Cuttino Mobley

Posted in Houston Rockets |
October 23, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Are the 2016-17 Houston Rockets a 50-win team?

Eric Gordon James Harden Ryan Anderson Houston Rockets

Ready or not, the Houston Rockets are set to open the 2016-17 NBA season this Wednesday when they face the Lakers in Los Angeles.

David Weiner, aka BimaThug, joins the podcast as we talk about what we expect from the Rockets this season. We discuss the offseason and preseason, the Donatas Motiejunas situation and what do Daryl Morey and the Rockets’ front office do next?

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
September 26, 2016 at 2:18 pm

James Harden is the Rockets’ point guard, but hasn’t he always been?

Mike D'Antoni and James Harden

On Monday after practice, new Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni got some headlines when he acknowledged the fact that James Harden is his point guard.

“He’s more or less going to be responsible for giving rhythm to the team — that’s what a point guard does,” D’Antoni said. “He’s going to be on the ball and he’s going to be distributing the ball. So it will take some adjusting. He’s got a lot more responsibilities as a point guard. He’s a good basketball mind. He’s already telling guys, ‘We can do this, we can do that’ so he’s great.”

While the Internet is lighting up with this “change”, it’s really the role Harden has played for years here in Houston. Patrick Beverley’s job has always been to defend, hit spot up shots and take care of the ball. Harden has been the drive and dish playmaker of the team.

Both the coach and player acknowledged that not much is different.

D’Antoni, who chose the title of “points guard” for Harden, said “very little” has changed about Harden’s role. He said 80% of this he was doing anyway.

When asked how this is different for him, Harden said, “It’s not.”

What is different about this training camp is that the Rockets are not shying away from it and are embracing it. Last year, with the addition of Ty Lawson, the Rockets talked about Harden playing off the ball and letting Lawson run the show — a plan that never got off the ground.

By embracing it, D’Antoni is saying Harden will have the ball right from the outlet pass.

“He doesn’t have to wrestle (now) with people trying to get the ball. He’s got it right from the get go,” said D’Antoni. “He doesn’t spend all the energy down there in a wrestling match with people trying to hold him, denying him and all that. There will be times where he’s off and Pat (Beverley) does it. We’ll find a happy medium between the two. But right now, he’s directing traffic.”

Here are the full interviews after practice with both D’Antoni and Harden.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
September 22, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Rockets trade Michael Beasley to Bucks for Tyler Ennis

Rockets trade Michael Beasley for Tyler Ennis

We thought a trade might be coming before training camp opened, but leave it to the Rockets to wait until the last day.

On the eve of Media Day at Toyota Center, the Rockets have made a trade, sending forward Michael Beasley to the Milwaukee Bucks for third-year point guard Tyler Ennis. The deal was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

The Bucks recently lost Khris Middleton to a torn hamstring while the Rockets need some depth at the point guard spot, so the deal may be beneficial here for both teams.

Beasley can score in a hurry, so it’s a surprise that new coach Mike D’Antoni would look to move him, but with new stretch four Ryan Anderson signed and Donatas Motiejunas likely to return, the Rockets had a surplus at the position. Beasley also will be a free agent in 2017.

Ennis is interesting. He’s a former first round pick (18th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft) of the Phoenix Suns who was traded to Milwaukee in the Brandon Knight/Michael Carter-Williams trade in February of 2015. He hasn’t done much in the league in his first two seasons, but he’s very young (just turned 22) and was touted as a pure point guard coming out of Syracuse.

The Rockets point out that in the final 18 games of the 2015-16 season, Ennis hit 48.3% from the floor while posting 7.6 points, 3.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds in just under 24 minutes a night. He is not careless with the ball and runs a strong pick-and-roll, which no doubt was attractive to the Rockets given how important that is to a D’Antoni squad.

Daryl Morey and company have done this type of move before, acquiring a young point guard who was stashed on the bench when Houston landed Kyle Lowry in 2009 for Rafer Alston. That’s not to say Ennis is a future Lowry, but there is some upside here given that Ennis could see opportunity in Houston.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
September 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Jeff Van Gundy thinks Rockets will be an offensive juggernaut

Jeff Van Gundy Houston Rockets Coach

After a season of mediocre .500 ball and a handful of changes this offseason, the Houston Rockets are tough to project for 2016-17.

Not for Jeff Van Gundy. The former Houston coach thinks this new Rockets squad will be extremely strong on one side of the ball.

“Defensively, they’re going to be challenged,” said Van Gundy. “But offensively, they’re an absolute juggernaut.”

Van Gundy spoke with Adam Clanton of SportsTalk 790 on Friday to discuss Yao Ming as he’s set to go into the Hall of Fame this weekend, taking time to talk about this year’s Rockets as well.

Calling new coach Mike D’Antoni a “home run hire”, Van Gundy thinks the Rockets will win 50 games.

“I think they’re going to be impossible to guard,” said Van Gundy. “The only issue is the guys they signed are talented, talented offensive players and shooters, but can they hold up? Nene to me is a great value signing, a very low contract and a very productive player. (Ryan) Anderson and (Eric) Gordon have had multiple injuries these past few years. If they can stay healthy, I think they’re a 50-win team.”

Van Gundy also said he “chuckles” all the time at the criticism of James Harden, who he calls an “absolute elite player.”

“I never heard this criticism of Steve Nash,” said Van Gundy. “No one was talking about his defense. They were talking about what a great offensive talent he was.”

It’s an excellent interview and you can listen to it in its entirety here.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
August 17, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Bill Worrell planning retirement, Craig Ackerman to take over road TV duties

Bill Worrell Houston Rockets

Longtime Rockets broadcaster Bill Worrell is planning his retirement, a source informed ClutchFans today.

Worrell plans to retire after this coming season, though there is a slim possibility that he will remain for two more years. However, the transition is underway. The Rockets are currently planning some broadcast changes as a result, with Worrell doing the play-by-play for Root Sports on just the home games this season.

The current plan is for Rockets radio voice Craig Ackerman to take over Worrell’s television broadcaster role for road games. Ackerman should do a terrific job as he’s passionate about the team and his playcalling. You can see his voice/calls synced to video here from the Rockets Game 6 comeback against the Clippers in the 2015 West semifinals.

As for who will do the radio call, SportsTalk 790’s Matt Thomas will fill in for Ackerman on the radio play-by-play for road games.

That’s not the only role Thomas will play this season. ClutchFans has learned that Thomas will take over the public address announcer duties at Toyota Center, replacing John Paul Stevenson, who has been in that role since 2006. Stevenson will remain with the organization.

Thomas was the PA announcer at The Summit for the Rockets during the championship seasons of 1994 and 1995. The Rockets are preparing for their 50th anniversary season so the move coincides with that direction. Thomas does a great job and should bring back some nostalgia as well, but it’s a shock they would replace Stevenson, who has been very strong for 10 seasons.

As for Worrell, he is a Houston treasure, having been a fixture in our city for over 30 years. He has been broadcasting Houston Rockets games since 1983, then with Home Sports Entertainment (HSE). He also covered the Houston Astros from 1985 to 2004.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
August 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Houston Rockets release 2016-17 schedule

Houston Rockets 2016-17 Schedule

We’re smack dab in the middle of the NBA’s dead period, but we got a little tease on Thursday as the league released their 2016-17 game schedule.

The Houston Rockets, armed with new shooters in Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon to play alongside James Harden, will open the season on the road as they face the team Mike D’Antoni’s previously coached, taking on the Lakers in Los Angeles on October 26th. The Rockets follow that up with an away-home doubleheader against the Dallas Mavericks.

It’s a fairly tough start for the Rockets as seven of their first eight games are on the road, including road matchups with the Cavaliers and Spurs.

Dwight Howard makes his return to Houston on February 2nd when the Atlanta Hawks come to town, though it won’t be the first time he faces his former team. The Rockets-Hawks square off in Atlanta on November 5th.

The Golden State Warriors were already a hot ticket but it’s clearly the show to see now with Kevin Durant joining Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors will play at Toyota Center on January 20th and March 28th.

Anderson and Gordon will make their return to New Orleans on February 23rd when the Rockets take on the Pelicans.

Holiday game dates? The Rockets had played on Christmas Day in three of the previous four seasons but it will not happen this season. They will play on New Year’s Eve at home however, taking on the Knicks.

You can see the full Houston Rockets 2016-17 schedule at Rockets.com here.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 22, 2016 at 11:36 am

Rockets are looking for a new Clutch the Bear

Clutch the Bear Houston Rockets mascot

The Houston Rockets will be looking for a new person to play their mascot, Clutch the Bear, a source within the organization confirmed to ClutchFans.

Robert Boudwin, who has played “Clutch” for 21 seasons, will not be back with the team.

The team’s mascot is a member of the Mascot Hall of Fame and has nearly 150,000 followers on Facebook. The Rockets will be holding open auditions looking for a new person to play their mascot, possibly in August.

Posted in Houston Rockets |