Our friends over at King James Gospel who have been dropping their “On This Date in NBA History” posts for some time now, shared a story close to our hearts today.
On this date August 19, 1996 – The Phoenix Suns traded Charles Barkley and a second-round pick to the Houston Rockets for Chucky Brown (@ChuckyBrown52), Mark Bryant, Sam Cassell and Robert Horry(@RKHorry).
For those of us rooting for the Rockets at the time, this was the bon voyage to the championship team and the arrival of the “pajama uniforms”. Sam Cassell and Robert Horry both went on the win championships with other teams. Horry picked up 5 more rings, and Cassell earned 1 with the 2008 Boston Celtics. The departure of Cassell and Horry, was an attempt by Rockets management to win right away. Combining old Charles Barkley, with old Hakeem Olajuwon, and old Clyde Drexler must have looked like a recipe for success. Unfortunately in the 4 years Barkley spent with the Rockets they never made it to the Finals.
To begin the season, Barkley was suspended for the season opener and fined $5,000 for fighting Charles Oakley during an October 25, 1996 preseason game. After Oakley committed a flagrant foul on Barkley, Barkley responded by shoving Oakley. He continued to battle injuries throughout the season and played only 53 games, missing fourteen because of a laceration and bruise on his left pelvis, eleven because of a sprained right ankle and four due to suspensions. He became the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 19.2 points on .484 shooting; the first time since his rookie year that he averaged below 20 points per game. With Olajuwon taking most of the shots, Barkley focused primarily on rebounding, averaging 13.5 per game, the second best in his career. The Rockets ended the regular season with a 57–25 record and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they were defeated in six games by the Utah Jazz.
The second game of the 96′-97′ season pitted the Rockets against the Phoenix Suns. Horry, Cassell, and Chucky Brown all went for revenge against the team that had traded them. Charles Barkley goes nuts with 20 points and 33 boards. Also nice to see Wayman Tisdale as well.