The NBA’s 75th Anniversary team had 12 players that donned the Houston Rockets’ red at one point in their careers. The Rockets aren’t nationally viewed as one of the greatest franchises in the league, but their cache of top-75 players would suggest otherwise.
While some of the dozen suited up for the Rockets in their primes, others found their way to the franchise as they were fading out of the sport. The Rockets have made the playoffs 33 times since 1974-75, the conference finals eight times, the NBA finals four times, and won two championships, and the franchise largely owes their competitive consistency to the dozen 75th-anniversary players who have represented them.
Before we get to the rankings, a few Rockets, who weren’t on the list, need to be mentioned.
The franchise wouldn’t be where it is today without the contributions of Calvin Murphy, Rudy Tomjanovich, as a player and coach, Yao Ming, Steve Francis, and Otis Thorpe. This is by no means a definitive list but simply a start. Realistically, Yao Ming, if it wasn’t for injury, would have had the best case to make the NBA’s 75th-anniversary team.
His importance to the growth of basketball globally far outstrips his humongous 7’6 height. However, his production on the court had him as one of the best players in the league. Over his first seven NBA seasons, he averaged 19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. While 19.1 points per game doesn’t scream top-75 player, through his first seven seasons in the NBA the average team points per game was 97.3. In the NBA’s last full season, 2019-20, the league averaged 111.2 points per game per team.
Yao Ming played five games after the age of 28 because of recurrent foot injuries but still managed to earn five All-NBA selections. If he had avoided catastrophic injury there’s little question that he would have seen his name on the list.
However, there are a million what-ifs in basketball history. So, without further ado, this is the definitive ranking of the NBA’s 75th-anniversary team by their Rockets’ tenure.