Steve Francis became a fan favorite during his early days with the Houston Rockets, as he had a skillset that made him entertaining to watch. Francis had one of the best crossovers in the league and had the athleticism that made him a human highlight reel.
Following a controversial trade that sent Francis from the Vancouver Grizzlies to Houston, Francis finished the 1999-00 season in a dead tie with Elton Brand for the Rookie of the Year award, as he turned in averages of 18 points, 6.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. By Francis’ third year in the league he became an All-Star and would be named to three consecutive All-Star teams.
Francis didn’t exactly have the best experience in the Space City, as the Rockets went 195-215 during his first five years in the league and only made the postseason once, which resulted in the Rockets getting dismantled within five games of the opening round of the 2004 playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers. Afterwards, Francis was traded to the Orlando Magic, in a deal that brought Tracy McGrady to Houston and put an end to the tumultuous relationship Francis had with first-year Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy.
After three combined seasons with the Orlando Magic and the New York Knicks, Francis made a brief return to the Rockets in 2007-08 but played sparingly in ten games, as he was a shell of himself. Francis was later traded by the Rockets for a second time in 2008, although this time to the Memphis Grizzlies, in a deal that was believed to prove that he could still play.
Steve Francis pledges lifelong loyalty to the Houston Rockets
In spite of the rocky relationship Francis had with the franchise, he sided with the franchise when asked to share his thoughts on the James Harden melodrama that saw the second-best player in franchise history get dealt to the Brooklyn Nets.
In the same interview with NBC Houston’s Sports Sunday, Francis later added, “I’m a Rocket man. Once a Rocket, always one.”
Off the court, Francis has become a philanthropist in the Houston community, as he’s founded a scholarship after his late mother, named the Brenda Wilson scholarship, which is geared towards high school seniors in the greater Houston area and has granted $500,000 to more than 50 students.
Francis also offered a helping hand during Houston’s most devastating natural disaster of late, Hurricane Harvey, where he provided food and water, while also providing clothing to an abundance of impacted Houstonians. Francis recently founded the Houston Push, which is a minor league basketball team in Houston that is in The Basketball League.
Considering Francis’ lifelong appreciation for the Houston Rockets and his contributions to the city of Houston, it’s safe to say that he’ll be around for awhile.