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[houstonpress]Game Time: Best of the Best - Top 10 Moments from Clutch City Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by tinman, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2010/07/game_time_best_of_the_best_-_t.php

    Game Time: Best of the Best -- Top 10 Moments from Clutch City Rockets
    By Sean Pendergast


    Categories: Basketball, Game Time, Sports

    Consensus Number One
    ‚ÄčI am a total sucker for lists.

    This makes me like roughly 95 percent of society; the fact that I openly admit I'm a sucker for lists makes me a little more unique. There are so many list books, list columns, list blog posts (many by yours truly) that it seems by admitting you like something so formulaic, you're somehow viewed as lazy or shallow.

    Screw that. Lists work because they encompass everything that is fun about healthy debate -- opinion, logic (or lack thereof), and something being deemed as good, better, or best.

    And if you don't think people care about lists, then you didn't see former Miami Hurricane Alonzo Highsmith's reaction when I told him the 1986 'Canes were chosen the most hated team in sports history by SI.com. He acted like he just won another national championship.

    As you have likely seen, the Houston Press has its own sports list this week ranking the ten best (and five worst) sports moments in our fair city's history. Again, love it. I'm all in. However, in weighing in, I wanted to do something a little different...

    I think a big part of qualifying to truly rank sports moments or teams or players is that you have to have consumed them in some viable way. Being a general sports fan is enough of a consumption level to rank the most hated teams. However, when it comes to something as nakedly emotional as your hometown sports moments, you almost have to have been there or at least had a major rooting interest.

    When it comes to ranking the all-time sports moments in Houston, my basis of emotional investment didn't begin until I moved here in 1994, which obviously means I wasn't living nor dying during Mike Renfro's "catch," the 1980 or 1986 MLB playoffs, Mike Scott's no-hitter, or 35-3 in Buffalo. It's disingenuous for me to rank these as a "Houstonian" because I wasn't one then.

    Now, the 1994 and 1995 Rockets? I was in Houston by then. I loved those teams. Great heart, great coach, mostly likable guys, one world-class nutjob in Vernon Maxwell, and the most athletic center in league history at the apex of his game. They won as frontrunners, they won as underdogs. They invented Clutch City, they cemented Double Clutch.

    And not surprisingly, their titles were ranked as our city's best sports moment.

    I can't speak on the history of Houston sports, but I can speak on the Clutch City Rockets teams. I watched every minute of every game during those playoffs. So if the Houston Press' top ten overall list is the swimming pool, allow me to construct a hot tub off to the side, and give you the best of the best....

    In chronological order, the best of the best -- the ten best moments of the Clutch City Rockets' back-to-back titles:

    1. Mad Max's 31 point second half -- Game 3 vs Phoenix '94
    The second round of the playoffs was off and running, and the Rockets had just finished coughing up a 20-point lead on their home court, and were going to Phoenix down 2-0 in the series. Headlines of "CHOKE CITY" were plastered across newspapers (back when newspapers were hip and cool). They needed a spark, and Vernon Maxwell gave it to them, exploding for 31 points in the second half of Game 3 to help the Rockets cruise to a 118-102 win. The seeds for Clutch City were planted that day.

    2. Dream gets the MVP Award before Conference Finals vs Utah

    The New England Patriots in the 2002 Super Bowl are given credit for doing a team introduction instead of individual players. Hakeem Olajuwon's receiving the MVP award in 1994 before the conference finals was, in a way, a precursor to the Patriots as he dedicated the award to his teammates and coaches and had them all come up and accept the trophy with him, a touching moment that symbolized this "team first" group.

    3. Sam Cassell's three-ball -- Game 3 '94 Finals
    Sam Cassell, rookie with stones, has to show up on this list somewhere. Needing a pivotal Game 3 win in New York, the Rockets got it and Cassell's three was the dagger shot.


    4. Dream blocks Starks -- Game 6 '94 Finals
    John Starks was on fire throughout Game 6, an elimination game for the Rockets. With one last chance to end the series, Starks got a look from the wing, but Dream got a piece of the shot, the Rockets took game 6, and Starks went on to put up one of the all-time clunkers in Game 7, shooting 2 for 18 from the field.

    5. Valetntine's Day Miracle -- Clyde Comes Home

    Needing an injection of life to get back to where they could potentially repeat as champions, the Rockets got it, adding a second future Hall of Famer by bringing Clyde Drexler home to Houston. It was a ballsy move by the Rockets in that it redefined the roles of several players. Otis Thorpe was gone so Robert Horry had to spend more time inside, and perhaps the biggest change came for Vernon Maxwell, who ultimately quit on the team during the first round of the playoffs over playing time. All's well that ends well.

    6. Mario Elie's Kiss of Death -- Game 7 vs Phoenix '95

    Perhaps the most famous single moment for Rockets' fans of either title run, Mario Elie's three-pointer from the corner in Game 7 helped the Rockets cap a comeback from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits in the series (without home court advantage, too). People forget how close this series came to ending in five games when Wesley Person's would-be winning jumper at the buzzer in Game 5 rimmed out and the Rockets ended up winning Game 5 in overtime before pulling out the series in seven.


    7. Big Shot Bob is born -- Game 1 vs Spurs '95

    We had no idea at the time that he would evolve into the ultimate June assassin, but it was born on this night in 1995. Horry made sure that the momentum established in the Phoenix series would continue against San Antonio as the Rockets took Game 1 in San Antonio on the strength of Horry's game-winner with 6.5 seconds to go.


    8. Dream undresses David Robinson

    Not much really needs to be said here....


    9. Nick Anderson's meltdown and Kenny Smith's big stones -- Game 1 '95 Finals
    Any run to immortality includes at least one or two (or for this Rockets team, about fifty) coin-flip moments where if things go differently, the journey gets derailed. A fascinating "What If" (which I may have to dig into in more detail)...what if Nick Anderson goes ONE for four from the line at the end of Game 1? No Kenny Smith three, no overtime Game 1 win, no sweep, maybe no title for the Rockets, legacies change, does Shaq stay in Orlando? A fascinating ripple effect to think about. Thankfully, Anderson clanked all four throws....

    10. "Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion..."
    Yep. Double Clutch.

    Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    A great read! Thanks. :cool:
     
  3. Hippieloser

    Hippieloser Contributing Member

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    Nick the Brick.

    [​IMG]

    Probably my favorite non-Rocket of all time. :) God, he just choked so beautifully. The Rockets never looked back.
     
  4. DaneB

    DaneB Member

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    Anyone have a video of Hakeem receiving an award and showing his humility by sharing it with his teammates?
     
  5. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    My favorite non-Rocket would be John Starks, game 7, going 2 for 18, but Nick the Brick might come in second. ;)
     
  6. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    730 mark
    <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/G67Nm6OpgBw&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/G67Nm6OpgBw&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>
     
  7. johnstarks

    johnstarks Member

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    I remember that block well. But the game 7 was more painful. Someone had to lose.
     
  8. BackNthDay

    BackNthDay Member

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    Dream giving D. Rob the business right after he received Dream's MVP trophy is my number one, followed by Mario's Kiss of Death corner 3 when Dream was wide open on the post. Lastly, Kenny giving P Hardaway some buckets, because the pundits picked Kenny get to lambasted by Little Penny and crew. Kenny held his own and I think scored 21 or 24 in the 1st game to set the tone. Because we all thought Kenny would get murdered.

    Great times on Richmond, u couldn't miss a good party on Richmond back then. Being young and crazy a good thing at the time.
     
  9. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Rocket guards never got any love.
    Looking back, Kenny/Sam was the best combo at the PG the Rockets had (Brooks/Lowry haven't won anything yet)

    Somebody forgot to tell Penny that Kenny could shoot.
     
  10. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    I'd put Dream vs Robinson first. Then the Anderson meltdown and Kenny Smith dagger second. Kiss of Death 3rd, and Mad Max's 31 4th. After that, I don't know.
     
  11. Qball

    Qball Contributing Member

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    What's this all about tinman?! :eek:
     
  12. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    the article writer didn't even like Maxwell, yet he rated his performance as #1.
    that shows he knows how important he was to the team.

    Maxwell couldn't play with Drexler, his pride wouldn't let him be a #2. plus he didn't get a contract extension.

    if Max got paid 25 million dollars that season, i guarantee you that he would never complain about anything, even 7 minutes of playing time. he would buy everybody at Luby's lunch and he would still go to Whataburger close to the Summit cause Maxwell was like one of us regular people.
     
  13. Qball

    Qball Contributing Member

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    Playing with The Dream, don't you think he should have learned some humility?

    After all that, don't you think what Maxwell did was selfish? How can you rag on T-Mac and not on Maxwell? They both are guilty of being selfish and not thinking about the team. Can't blame one but not the other. Just because one won a ring, doesn't make him exempt right?
     
  14. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    There are no two more different players than those two.
    you are comparing Tupac Shakur (Maxwell) to Sean Puffy Combs (T-mac)

    Maxwell wanted a contract extension but never got it, so he had that boiling in his head for the whole season, plus they traded for Drexler.


    Tracy McGrady was the highest paid player in the freaking NBA. He came to the season, not healthy and was rehabbing like Lindsay Lohan in Cannes.

    Maxwell would never let Jamario Moon happen, he would have at least hacked him.

    Tracy McGrady got paid 25 million dollars to help lead the Rockets to a championship.

    Maxwell's a role player who loved to play defense.

    Tracy is a franchise player who loved to play every other day.

    Tracy McGrady always had an excuse.
    Maxwell always had technical fouls.

    Maxwell was tough and threw elbows at Michael Jordan.

    Tracy McGrady was brittle and threw smiles and accolades at Kobe Bryant.

    Maxwell overachieved.
    Tracy under achieved.

    Maxwell started CLUTCH CITY
    Tracy started CRUTCH CITY
     
  15. Qball

    Qball Contributing Member

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    McGrady quit on his team.
    Maxwell quit on his team.
    Pippen quit on his team.

    Do you agree with the above statements?

    Like I said, I'm not a fan of T-Mac at all but I don't like quitters, I don't care who they are. I understand that they both had their good times (as you subjectively pointed out) but why should that matter for one and not the other? Are you going to make an exception for Maxwell?
     
  16. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    see the title, there's only one who's Clutch City and it ain't Pippen or the Tim Grover experiment.

    if those three were in a locker room fight, there's only one badass left standing

    [​IMG]

    CLUTCH CITY > ALL
     
  17. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    if Pippen, Maxwell, and Tmac were in the same room together...

    I'd gladly give Maxwell some free weights. I hope that answers all your future questions on this subject.
     
  18. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    he didn't rate it as #1...he said this:

    In chronological order, the best of the best -- the ten best moments of the Clutch City Rockets' back-to-back titles:
     
  19. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    dooh!
     
  20. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    I think it was winning game 4 in Phoenix of year 1 after falling behind 0-2 and Barkley having claimed the series wouldn't return to Houston.

    There was an interview of KJ being asked who had the advantage now that Houston had come back to win two road games in Phoenix to tie the series and KJ just shoot his head and said, "I don't know"

    That was the first heartbeat.
     

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