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[chron]Rockets sweetest ever valentine

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by tinman, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Waiting for Morey to top this trade! :grin:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/3037443.html

    Clyde trade to Rockets sweetest ever valentine
    By FRAN BLINEBURY Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
    Feb. 13, 2005, 12:23AM


    It seems so natural to look up inside Toyota Center and see his retired uniform number fluttering from the rafters along with the NBA championship banner he was so instrumental in hanging.

    He closes his eyes occasionally and drifts back to that special night when the lights sparkled a little brighter, when the roar of the crowd echoed in his head like cannon fire, when the emotions of an entire city seemed to wrap him in a longing embrace.

    Feb. 14, 1995. The greatest trade in Houston history. The sweetest ever Valentine's Day gift for a city of sports fans.

    The irony is Clyde Drexler had given up hope. Of ever playing any part of his storied NBA career in his hometown. Of ever wearing the Rockets jersey of his teenage dreams. Of ever teaming up again on the basketball court with his old friend Hakeem Olajuwon.

    Ten years later, Drexler chuckles and shakes his head.

    "About a week before the trade went down, Dream and I had dinner in Portland and, during the course
    of the conversation, I think we both had pretty much buried the fantasy," he said. "We had talked about it for so long, for so many years. From the time we were at the University of Houston and all through our NBA careers.

    "We had always talked about the possibility of me coming back to Houston or him coming up to Portland. But hey, they had just won the championship in '94, and I figured that's when the last chance went out the window."

    Struggling champs
    Except that after going 9-0 to start the season, the defending champions never could find a rhythm. They bickered, they struggled, they suffered through a seemingly endless string of injuries and were getting desperate by the night Drexler and Olajuwon met for dinner. That just happened to come after Drexler's Trail Blazers had walloped Olajuwon's Rockets 120-82.

    "You're talking about a team that had won a championship, and you want to give them every opportunity to repeat," said Carroll Dawson, Rockets general manager who was then an assistant coach. "We kept thinking that if we just gave those guys some time, that it would eventually come together.

    "But something always seemed to stop us from getting on a roll and, at that point, we pretty much knew we needed a shot in the arm. You've got to give (head coach) Rudy (Tomjanovich) and (owner) Les (Alexander) and the whole organization credit."

    It barely took an airplane to fly Drexler to Houston.

    "I was more than ready," he said. "As soon as I heard there was a possibility, I did everything I could to orchestrate that trade. I was in a situation where the Blazers had played in the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, and they were looking to rebuild. That wasn't for me.

    "At that point, I was coming off a season where I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee and then had a couple of hamstring injuries while I was trying to come back. I started to hear criticism in Portland, people saying that I was getting old, that I was over the hill.

    "What I really wanted was to go to a team where I'd have a chance to show everybody. I wanted that right spot to come in and say, 'Guess who can still play?' "

    Deal unpopular at first
    The trade sent Otis Thorpe and the rights to Marcelo Nicola to the Blazers for Drexler and Tracy Murray. The deal was criticized by many for being desperate and tampering with chemistry.

    "What chemistry?" Drexler said. "They didn't like each other anymore."

    "I hate it," said forward Robert Horry at the time. "When you lose a power forward, you should have a power forward coming in. There's not one player who's going to solve our problems."

    Then an eight-time NBA All-Star, Drexler wasn't just any player. His presence gave the team and the fans an emotional lift and gave the Rockets another big-time player at both ends of the floor who could shoulder the load. He also gave his old college running buddy a sense of renewed enthusiasm.

    "There was so much Clyde could do," Olajuwon said. "He could make so much happen. Just to play with him again, it was wonderful. Even tough I hated that we were losing Otis, I was very happy to have Clyde with me again."

    They had come close before. In 1983, when the Rockets made Ralph Sampson the No. 1 choice in the NBA draft, they also had the No. 3 pick and took Rodney McCray instead of Drexler. He went to Portland at No. 14.

    The following year, when Olajuwon entered the draft, the Rockets beat out the Blazers in a coin flip for the No. 1 pick or the two could have played together in Portland.

    There were several times that the Rockets flirted with the idea of trading for Drexler. Also, in 1992 when Olajuwon was in a contract dispute and the club was accusing him of faking a leg injury, Drexler tried to get him shipped to the Blazers.

    "My hopes were up so many times that I got tired of making myself disappointed," Drexler said. "Then it happened. Oh, you talk about poetry. About a dream come true. This was a script that you can't write."

    Dawson remembers his instant impressions.

    "I'd see those unbelievably strong hands reach in and rip the ball away from guys for a steal," he said. "I'd see those drives when he'd just put his head down and run in for dunks.

    "Confidence is so much in this league, and when we got Clyde, you could see that ours just jumped up."

    The Rockets used the second half of the regular season to get themselves healthy and eased Drexler into the offensive system, but things were still bumpy. They went just 7-8 in March and 5-7 in April, losing the final three regular-season games. They entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed and were regarded as a long shot.

    Defining moment
    It wasn't until the deciding Game 5 of the first-round playoff series at Utah when Drexler truly arrived. The defending champs trailed by seven points with under five minutes left, and everything changed.

    Drexler scored on tough drives and long jumpers. He fought for rebounds. He dove for loose balls. He finished with 31 points and willed the Rockets to a 95-91 win.

    "Clyde is a leader, and that is the game when it showed," Olajuwon said.

    Said Drexler: "I was just hungry for a chance to win it all, and I wasn't leaving anything out there. But if you're a big-time player, it was time to make plays."

    Drexler was ejected from Game 1 of the next series in Phoenix after a run-in with referee Jake O'Donnell. With the Rockets down 3-1 in the series, Drexler was weak with the flu and not expected to leave his bed for Game 5.

    "I don't remember much about that experience at all," Drexler said. "I don't know how I got out of bed. I know the team bus left, and I think I bribed a bellboy at the hotel to help me get dressed and take me to the arena."

    Aching to play
    His teammates were shocked to see him stagger in. He was pale. He was haggard. But he was there, and the Rockets walked up to his locker and thanked him. He missed all six shots he took. But he was an inspiration.

    "The only play I remember from the whole night was with about 20 seconds left and Hakeem put up a shot from the baseline," Drexler said. "Somehow it hit the corner of the backboard and went in. At that point, I said to myself, 'Nothing can stop us.' "

    Nothing did. Not San Antonio in the next round or Orlando in the NBA Finals.

    When the Rockets' 4-0 sweep of the Magic was complete, Drexler searched amid the celebration for one pair of eyes, one face — Olajuwon.

    "You're laughing and hugging, and you're so happy about what you just did," Drexler said. "But I also remember thinking right then about all the years and all the times we wanted to play together."

    It all seems so perfect now, the natural fit, Drexler and the Rockets.

    "I guess," he said, "you have to wait for the stars to line up."

    fran.blinebury@chron.com
     
  2. jvu

    jvu Member

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    Dear morey.. If you love us.. Bring us a starting center and a superstar..

    With love,
    Jvu

    PS please have DeAndre Jordan magically appear into our starting lineup!!
     
  3. bullardfan

    bullardfan なんでやねん
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    Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge? reunite them on Houston? or John Wall and Cousins? Ginobli and Scola is the most realistic but we dont even have 1 championship with this group to feed off of...
     
  4. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    Morey already did this last year!

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. ThaShark316_28

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    Anyone remember where they were when they heard about it?
     
  6. Raven

    Raven Member

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    How sweet it is.
     
  7. Rockets Red Glare

    Rockets Red Glare Contributing Member

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    I was in the arena- wish the Rockets could pull something that awesome again!
     
  8. Treeza

    Treeza Member

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    fixed. :(
     
  9. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    They could bring back Houstonians Rashard Lewis and Emeka Okafor
     
  10. roflmcwaffles

    roflmcwaffles Member

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    Those are 2 of the NASTIEST contracts in the NBA, why would you want those contracts?

    I'd love to see Morey pull some magic by the trade deadline, but tanking and using that good pick w/ assets to pull a superstar on this team would be even better imo (if we can get that done).
     
  11. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    Am I the only one who read this and lament that we now have an injured Yao rather than Hakeem?

    Hakeem's 95 form, IMO, plus the current group with Scola/Battier/Martin/Lowry would be championship favorite this year. I don't even need two superstars. Just one would be enough. :(
     
  12. IndoRockets

    IndoRockets Member

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    Well I've been lamenting for the past 2 seasons as our team is just a healthy Yao Ming away from contending
     
  13. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    I walked into Chili's in Waco, Texas that night with my girlfriend (now my wife) and a friend from Dallas saw me from across the room. He came over and said, "Well, I guess you're pretty happy about the Rockets, huh?" He could tell I hadn't heard the news from my expression and he told me about the trade. Incredible.
     
  14. Achilleus

    Achilleus Member

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    <object width="480" height="390"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/OZ13fobOmuM?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/OZ13fobOmuM?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="390"></embed></object>

    <object width="480" height="390"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/yo4PY_FVK7A?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/yo4PY_FVK7A?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="390"></embed></object>

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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  16. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    you are right. i was thinking of home town players.
     
  17. francis 4 prez

    francis 4 prez Contributing Member

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    funny that the only play he remembers from game 5 against phoenix came from game 5 against utah. he really must've been out of it.
     
  18. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    The Valentine's day miracle I would like to see is Yao walking into TC healthy and ready to play.
     
  19. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    I remember watching his first game as a Rocket (maybe against the Hornets?) with my Dad. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. I think he had a break-away dunk and me and my Dad both stood up and starting screaming and high-fiving like little girls. Calvin Murphy about had an orgasm on the TV broadcast.

    Always felt bad for OT though. I remember his first game back in Houston after the trade, he got a HUGE standing O from the crowd when he checked in. He was getting ready to inbound the ball fast because, in typical Otis fashion, he was embarrassed by all the attention. But the ref grabbed it from him and started wiping it down with a towel so the ovation could go on a bit longer. Classy move by the ref.

    After the game, a reporter asked OT about the ovation and he said "it was a nice thing and something that I'll never forget." One of my favorite Rockets EVER.

    OOOOOOOOO-TEEEEEEEEEEEE.........Otis Thorpe!!
     
  20. Vivaelsueno

    Vivaelsueno Member

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    Very well said!
     
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