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[Looking Back] The 2002-03 Houston Rockets. The Year of Yao and misfortune.

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by moestavern19, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. moestavern19

    moestavern19 Member

    Dec 8, 1999
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    So I was looking back on the Rockets during Yao's rookie season, and if you examine all the players on that season's roster, you will find that not much went right of any of them after this season. A few of them are no longer living, one recently suffered a stroke, one is in legal troubles, and most of the rest never had productive NBA careers again after this season. A large percentage of them sat on the bench with the New York Knicks.

    So... 2002-03 The Year of the Curse?

    I guess James Posey didn't stay here long enough to be affected.


    C Kelvin Cato
    C Jason Collier
    C Yao Ming
    PF Maurice Taylor
    PF Kenny Thomas
    PF/SF Eddie Griffin
    SF James Posey
    SF Glen Rice
    SF Bostjan Nachbar
    SF Terrance Morris
    SG/SF Juaquin Hawkins
    SG Cuttino Mobley
    PG Moochie Norris
    PG Tito Maddox
    PG Steve Francis

    Center Kelvin Cato - The selection of Yao spelled doom for the starting center days of Kelvin Cato, though he would start again in 2003-04, his FG% dropped to a dismal 44% and he was traded to Orlando as a part of the Tracy McGrady deal. He posted modest numbers in 50 starts for the Magic the following season but then his playing time dwindled and his NBA career seemingly ended in 2006-07 with him riding the bench with the New York Knicks.

    Center Jason Collier - Jason Collier left Houston after the season and found himself in Atlanta the following year and produced well for the Hawks in limited duty. The next season he started 44 games, however he died tragically in his sleep and left behind a wife and child.

    Rookie Center Yao Ming
    - Yao's rookie season was filled with a lot of hardship and learning experiences. He was held scoreless in his debut, but later would make Charles Barkley look like a fool. He battled with Shaq and held his ground. A perennial all-star with a fan base unmatched, Yao continues to be one of the best players in the NBA with his soft shooting touch and low post presence.

    Power Forward Maurice Taylor - Mo Tay had a sweet jump shot, and was thought to be a key free agent signing in 2000 that would solidify the Rockets at PF. Taylor started all 82 games in 2000-01 and averaged 13 points and 5 rebounds. After an injury the following season, Taylor returned but never to the starting lineup on an NBA team. He was dealt to the Knicks and appeared in a few games for the Sacramento Kings in 2006-07.

    Power Forward Kenny Thomas - After averaging career best numbers the year before, Thomas saw his role reduced with the return of Maurice Taylor which led to his trade early into the 2002-03 season. He was very productive and averaged a double-double for the 76ers the next year and was afterward more of a rotation player. He has appeared in 23 games for the Sacramento Kings this season and is averaging a career low 12 minutes per game.

    Power Forward/Small Forward Eddie Griffin - The Rockets packaged Richard Jefferson, Brandon Armstrong and Jason Collins in 2001 for the promising but troubled Griffin. Although he had a lot of talent, he was more of a tweener and couldn't find a position in Rudy T's offense which led to him shooting 273 3 pointers in his rookie season. He was a gifted shot blocker but never developed much of a low post game. The Rockets officially gave up on the Eddie Griffin experiment after 2 seasons and after a stint with the Nets he landed in Minnesota where put up respectable numbers. Eddie was never able to overcome his troubles and was one of the saddest stories the NBA has ever seen. He crashed his SUV and died in 2007.

    Small Forward James Posey - Acquired in a small salary deal with Denver, James Posey played well for the Rockets but chose to sign with Memphis the following offseason. Known for being a hard-nosed defender and a 3 point threat, Posey won an NBA title with the Heat in 2006 and is now a contributing member of the surging Boston Celtics.

    Small Forward Glen Rice - 2002-03 was the last year aging veteran Glen Rice contributed to an NBA team, hitting 101 threes in his 62 appearances. He had one more year with the Clippers and has since found himself in legal troubles.

    Small Foward Bostjan Nachbar - "Boki" was "that other guy" picked with Yao in the draft that year. Known for his shooting and ability to drive to the rack, the Rockets has high hopes for Boki but he wasn't given much a chance. He was dealt to the Hornets in midst of the 2004-05 season and then later resurfaced in 2006-07 as a contributor for the New Jersey Nets. Boki now averages 10 points a game and is a reliable shooter off Lawrence Frank's bench.

    Small Forward Terence Morris - "T-Mo" was picked with much fanfare in 01-02 as the Savior of the Houston Rockets franchise... just kidding. Morris never really did more than play a few garbage minutes now and then for the Rockets. He lasted one more season before he was let go, he appeared in 22 games for the Orlando Magic in 2005-06, and has since been playing overseas.

    Shooting Guard / Small Forward Juaquin Hawkins - The Hawk was one of those guys who came out of nowhere but made some noise in training camp and wound up on an NBA team. His claim to fame was guarding and scoring 12 points on Michael Jordan in his only NBA season. He also threw down a thunderous dunk off a pass from Yao that made highlight reels everywhere. He has been playing international ball since, and recently suffered a career-threatening stroke. Best of Wishes to the Hawk, hope you recover soon.

    Shooting Guard Cuttino Mobley
    - Cuttino was a surprise as a 2nd round pick out of Rhode Island in 1998. "The Cat" could go off on any night, and he was best known for being one of those streak shooters that would jack up a few that weren't close, but then hit 4 in a row. He was dealt with Kelvin Cato and Steve Francis in the Tracy McGrady deal. The Cat only lasted 23 games with his best pal Steve in Magicland before being traded for Doug Christie. He signed with the Clippers the following offseason and his scoring average has dropped every year since.

    Point Guard Moochie Norris
    - a fan favorite known for his wild hairstyles and improbable clutchiness (thats not a word I know) Moochie made his presence felt as Steve Francis' backup starting in 1999-2000. He played in every game for the next 3 seasons. Never much of a shooter, Mooch was known more for... well... dribbling. 2002-03 was the last year Mooch ever saw much time as a backup PG in the league. His bread and butter disappeared and he ended up riding the pine with the Knicks (what is it these Knicks and ex-Rockets) for one season before finishing his career on the bench back with the Rockets in 05-06. He once led the Rockets to a triple overtime victory of the Indiana Pacers in a triple overtime thriller.

    Point Guard Tito Maddox - The original Rockets baller from Fresno State, Tito Maddox... sucked. He appeared in 9 games and a photo with LA Times columnist and longtime clutchfans member TheCat.

    Starting Point Guard Steve Francis - Stevie Franchise set the league on fire in 99 with his killer crossover and scoring ability. After 5 seasons he struggled in Jeff Van Gundy's offense, averaging a career-low 16.6 ppg. He was traded for Tracy McGrady the following offseason. He had a good season with Orlando in 2004-05 putting up 21 points and 7 assists per game. He fizzled out after that and ended up unhappy as a New York Knick. He was traded on Draft Day to the Portland Trailblazers who promptly bought out his contract. He resigned with the Rockets and was thought to be the team's starting point guard again, but showed up to camp out of shape and did not even crack Rick Adelman's rotation. So far has only appeared in 10 games with the team, averaging a career low 19 minutes per game. He has not been heard from since Christmas.
  2. JeopardE

    JeopardE Contributing Member

    Jun 29, 2006
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    Wow. It's scary to think how incompetent our front office was back then ... this was an NBA team?
  3. yipengzhao

    yipengzhao Contributing Member

    Nov 11, 2002
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    Yeah but this team was in contention for playoffs...
  4. plutoblue11

    plutoblue11 Member

    Dec 13, 2006
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    That team almost made it to playoffs, after not making for 4 seasons and having one of the worst records in the league the year before.
  5. Ziggy

    Ziggy 99ers STAND BY

    Jun 11, 1999
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    Shows two things...
    1. How amazing of a coach Rudy T was, he got criticized for giving youngsters too much freedom? It was the only way to win games at the time.
    2. Reminds doubters how much of an impact player Steve Francis once was. He had the best season of any Rockets PG ever, not just statistically.
  6. Angkor Wat

    Angkor Wat Member

    Jun 14, 2007
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    I think Steve would still be an all-star if he never got traded. Remember the series against the Lakers? He averaged damn near a triple double (19/7/7) and finally looked like he turned the corner. He was reaching the Kobe,T-Mac,AI status. Then he got traded and it went all down hill from there. Actually had a pretty good first season with the Magic until Cat was traded.
  7. Clutch

    Clutch Administrator
    Staff Member

    Feb 13, 1999
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    I think Carroll Dawson did some good things, but one thing that still bothers me is the inability to properly use expiring contracts. They traded Mike James (expiring) for Rafer Alston, who had 5 years left on his deal and was practically immoveable after his problems with Sam Mitchell. They also traded Glen Rice, a $9 million expiring contract, WITH TWO DRAFT PICKS, for John Amaechi so they could sign Jim Jackson. Close to the same haul just netted Pau Gasol.

    There was a combination of impatience and Les Alexander cost-cutting likely involved, but still frustrating.
  8. Ziggy

    Ziggy 99ers STAND BY

    Jun 11, 1999
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    Exactly. The new league rules kind of diminish ISO play (which I don't get why people frown upon if it won games) so that hurt his career. But the new -come into the lane and its a foul- era would suit him just as well. Now its a health/mental issue. Never the same since Orlando decided Jameer Nelson was the man.
  9. crunch

    crunch Member

    Nov 5, 2007
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    and the heart of a champion Coach RudyT suffered from bladder ca.
  10. DaDakota

    DaDakota Never Trump
    Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 1999
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    Agree with this 100%...and it always seemed that we had a trade exception that was supposedly valuable, but apparently not valuable enough to actually USE the exception.

  11. Yetti

    Yetti Contributing Member

    May 20, 2002
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    You omitted to include that this was the era of 'DRIBBLEMANIA'and the era where playmaking became almost non existant! :p :p
  12. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
    Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2002
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    Great read, moestavern19. Very well done. Brought back a lot of memories, not all of them good. ;)
  13. MayoRocket

    MayoRocket Contributing Member

    Feb 7, 2007
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    Second that. Those were tough times as a Rocket fan. Lots of exciting highlights but precious few victories.

    I think I was most disappointed in Mo' Taylor. I knew it was a mistake to give Cato that big deal after he put up 10 swats in a preseason game, but I really thought Taylor would be good for us.

    It amazes me to this day that someone with his physique wasn't a banger and was such a pathetic rebounder for his size/position.

    Still he was probably the best 1st quarter player in the NBA for a year or two. :D
  14. finalsbound

    finalsbound Contributing Member

    Aug 31, 2000
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    It wasn't the greatest team ever assembled, but damn, I have really fond memories of them all. The Eddie chants, Steve's dominance, T-Mo's midrange jumper, Collier's surprisingly successful D against Shaq in LA, Kenny's pump-fake drives, Moochie's clutchness, Boki riding pine and giggling with Yao, Cato scowling and Rice backpedaling and smacking on his gum after he hit a three...

    Man. I loved them all. So Collier and Griffin have already passed away, Hawkins had a stroke...Final Destination 4: Rockets Edition?
  15. Shroopy2

    Shroopy2 Contributing Member

    Feb 16, 2003
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, was Scottie Pipppen in this movie for a brief moment?

    If so....culprit of the curse
  16. LegendZ3

    LegendZ3 Contributing Member

    Nov 6, 2002
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    What happened to Kenny Thomas? I remember he was a huge ballhog, but he does have decent talents. Always thought he could a Lamar Odom type of player. But he just fall off the map completely after that season.

    James Posey was great for the Rockets. He was a one man fast break every time on the open court. It's a shame he wanted more money, other wise he could be something special for the Rockets.

    Juaquin Hawkins was one of my favorite player that season. I think he was like 30 years old in his rookie season. It was a great story. Too bad to hear about the stroke. Hope he's doing well.

    To this day I still believe if Mo Tylor worked as half as hard as Yao did, he would be an all-star for many years, and he would still be in the league right now as a starter. Just huge waste of talents.

    Man, I can't believe this was 6 years ago and 2 of them has always passed. I still remember them like it's yesterday.
  17. ibm

    ibm Member

    Dec 18, 2007
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    yeah almost forgot and can't believe who were on our team back then and yet that team almost made it to the playoffs. and all the fortunes or misfortunes that have happened since than... just amazing.

    keep doing the best you can, and anything can happen. that's all i can draw from this.
  18. poprocks

    poprocks Member

    Oct 8, 2007
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    Terrance Morris is ripping up the Euroleague right now. Think he's good enough for the NBA?
  19. rubytuesday

    rubytuesday Contributing Member

    Oct 24, 2003
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    good memories... this was the first full season for me after college so i was just getting back into the players and games. i did start buying my season tickets this season and yes, i can't forget the dribblemania that drove me insane. very good times though. and def sad about collier and griffin. :(

    thanks for jogging up the memories.
  20. bloop

    bloop Member

    Oct 11, 2007
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    ******* this is a depressing thread

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