The Houston Rockets were founded as the San Diego Rockets in the 1967-68 season as an NBA expansion team. The team only played four seasons in “America’s Finest City” before touching down in Houston, Texas, in 1971. They’re currently celebrating their 50th season in the NBA and have delighted fans with two championship runs back to back in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.
The Houston Rockets earned the nickname “Clutch City” in the 1993-94 NBA Conference semifinals when they went down two games to the Phoenix Suns, only to come back and win that series, best the Utah Jazz in the Conference finals, and then dominate the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals. Given their historic season, it’s time to look at how the Rockets logo has changed over the past 50 years.
Launching Into Orbit
Even though the Houston Rockets have only won two NBA championships, they keep things interesting for their fans. The franchise has been to the playoffs 30 out of their 50 seasons, including every season over the last four years (2012-13 to 2015-16). Guard and NBA All-Star James Harden leads the Rockets into battle and has proven to be a beloved figure in Houston thanks in part to his iconic beard and aggressive style of play.
Houston has been home to several great players, but none is more dynamic than Hakeem Olajuwon. During his 17 seasons with the Rockets, he helped play a pivotal role in both team’s NBA championship runs. The Hall of Fame inductee only played one season outside of Houston for the Toronto Raptors. Olajuwon collected all his accolades in Houston – 12-time All-Star, 12-time All-NBA, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, two-time NBA Finals MVP, and 1993-94 MVP. Houston is waiting to see who, if anyone, can be as impactful as No. 34 was for them.
San Diego was known for being a “city in motion” and a hub for space-age industries during the time the Rockets were established, which earned the team their name and logo. The Houston Rockets have had four different logos since landing in Texas, with most tethered to the initial inspiration behind the team’s name.
Let’s look at how the Houston Rockets logo has evolved over time.
1971–1972: This logo features a cartoon basketball player blasting off, with the team name at the end of the rocket’s exhaust. It uses red and yellow as the main colors. The basketball with “NBA” across it is staged like a planet on top of the player’s finger.
1972–1994: This logo keeps the same primary colors – yellow and red – but ditches the rockets and cartoon basketball player. Instead, it features a yellow basketball surrounded by a bold red outline. Black text is used for “Rockets.”
1995–2002: Silver and white text outline red; shades of blue overlay a basketball background, which serves a dual purpose: It also resembles the sphere of a planet orbited by a cartoon rocket.
2003–2016: The logo more minimalistic with red text and no background art. A rocket and launch pad circling a large “R” are in between the words “Houston” and “Rockets.”
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How are you celebrating the 50th year of the Houston Rockets franchise as a fan? If it’s not with the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.com, you might as well scrub the mission. Is it truly a celebration if you’re not doing it in style?