I was getting so excited the other night when looking up former Houston Rockets players and where they are now.
More specifically, I was searching Wikipedia for players from the back-to-back glory days with Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon and Rudy Tomjanovich at the helm.
It’s amazing how many of them still have a hand in this game called basketball that I both love and adore.
Going from the NBA to retirement to returning to the hardwood, a lot of the former Rockets I am about to mention have been down many roads (with the common thread of sharing repeat high times as NBA Champions in the mid-'90s).
From Sam Cassell to Kenny Smith to the greatest center of all-time in Olajuwon (not to mention many, many others with highlight moments for Houston), the 1993-'94 and 1994-'95 Rockets teams are the prime example of NBA underdogs that won that coveted title not just once, but twice.
Rudy T had some great quotes during all those years as the court captain, the best (at least in my opinion) being, “never underestimate the heart of a champion.” Those mid-'90s teams represent that statement to perfection.
Without further adieu, here’s the roster from those wonderful '90s times and a brief glimpse as to where they are now (keep in mind I am only mentioning players that were a part of BOTH championships with Houston).
Hakeem Olajuwon : last I heard, he was helping Kobe Bryant get even better in the paint by teaching him techniques such as the Dream Shake. Not that Kobe needs to be making even more shots inside the arc, but he’s got a great teacher in Olajuwon.
Rudy Tomjanovich : Speaking of LA, Rudy T is currently a scout for the Lakers. Due mainly to health issues, Tomjanovich had to step away from coaching permanently. But the former Rockets coach that led Houston to back-to-back titles still has a load of hoops knowledge and is a huge asset to the game.
Kenny Smith : For basketball fans that don’t know what Kenny Smith is doing these days, you really need to tune into TNT. Smith (alongside former hoops star Charley Barkley) is a phenomenal commentator for all things NBA.
Robert Horry : The former Rockets star with numerous championship rings (including the ones he won in LA and San Antonio) is currently working for ESPN.
Mario Elie : Currently working as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings.
Sam Cassell : Currently working as an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards.
Carl Herrera : Some Rockets fans may not remember Herrera, but he really was a part of both title teams. Herrera is currently the head coach of the Gatos de Monagas of the Venezuela basketball league LNB.
Vernon Maxwell : As much as at times I’d like to leave “Mad Max” off this list, he had some great moments with the Rockets. However, his after-NBA antics and issues are a major concern. Unfortunately, the most current news on Maxwell is that he was arrested and jailed for probation violations and failing to pay child support.
I also have to mention just a few more names of guys that spent just one season with Houston in terms of those title days. Those trio of names include Scott Brooks, Matt Bullard, and Clyde Drexler.
Brooks : Currently the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Bullard/Drexler : Share commentating duties along with Bill Worrell for the Houston Rockets on FSN.
Check back throughout the season for brief features on many of these former Houston Rockets. From the little guys like Scottie Brooks to the big names like Hakeem “The Dream,” those mid-'90s Rockets are a highlight of my childhood.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org