NBA News

Houston Rockets: 20 Years and Counting: The 5 Greatest Moments In The Les Alexander Era

By Michael Ma
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3. The Dream, The Glide, and The Mound Round of Rebound

Houston Rockets teammates Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Charles Barkley at the 1997 NBA All-Star Game

This picture from the 1997 All-Star game couldn’t describe the state of the Rockets and the state of the three players at that time any better.  Future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler had won a championship just 2 years earlier, and the roster was now stacked with old (and I mean OLD) veterans.  Alexander helped initiate a trade with the Phoenix Suns to acquire then 33-year-old Charles Barkley, and the Rockets now had 3 future Hall of Famers.

Barkley’s lone quest for a championship came up short in 1993, and he desperately needed a ring to cement his legacy. At the time, the Rockets were favorites to challenge the Chicago Bulls for title, but a John Stockton buzzer-beater broke the hearts of Clutch City in 1997.

That would be the only true playoff run for the Big 3, as Barkley’s body began breaking down the next season. Drexler was in his last gear as well and was already hired as the University of Houston basketball coach during the 1997-’98 season before he even retired. While the move ultimately didn’t pay off, it was still special to see those 3 carry the Rockets for an exciting playoff run.