Unless you’ve done your best to impersonate Patrick Star or are living a life without Al Gore’s internet…the NBA is back! Go to your favorite social media platform and you’ll see NBA players featured in heavily edited videos they can’t miss, hit exchanges, and raving fanbases who think “this is our year!”.
What brings us Houston Rockets fans together with the family today is the recent reveal of the new alternate jersey that was revealed last week. Opinions were mixed depending on who you asked.
Some raved and said Jalen Green could make everything look good, while a friend of mine said, “I didn’t know the Rockets moved to Seattle, well done Seattle Rockets.” Never mind that the San Diego Rockets from which the jersey is derived entered the league the same year as the Supersonics. But before we talk more about the new yarns, let’s talk about some of the jerseys that came before it.
Ketchup & Mustard
There aren’t as many jerseys as iconic as this one. The new simplicity is what has given teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics a timeless look. Although this jersey was introduced to the world in 1971, it has seen many iterations.
However, the one everyone identifies with is the 1976-1995 design. The simple red, yellow and white brings back fond memories, as it recalls many of the glory days of Hakeem Olajuwon’s ‘Dream Shake’, Mario Ellie’s kiss of death and Rudy Tomjanovich’s ‘Heart of a Champion’ speech.
Since the franchise dropped that jersey, it’s only karmic that the franchise hasn’t won a championship since. Not only has the franchise given up on its identity, but it seems we’ve lost the goodwill of the basketball gods as well.
Many fans, myself included, miss the days when the team donned a kit that gave Ronald Mcdonald and the Golden Arches a run for their money.
Pinstripe pajama party!
Remember how I mentioned earlier how timeless the garment was? What if I told you right after winning consecutive championships, the team changed jerseys immediately? Most brand consultants would say that’s a terrible decision. But past ownership didn’t feel that way.
Gone is the royal red, yellow and white, for those quirky and loud navy, red and white stripes. The bold “Rockets” have been replaced with a wonky graphic that matches the 90s era “XTREME” with a rocket to boot.
Looking at the two shirts side by side, the decision just doesn’t make sense! There’s literally no design progression that could suggest this is Houston’s identity other than a rocket ship. The worst part is that fans were subjected to seeing this for eight long years (1995-2003)
Despite all that, I loved these jerseys when I was five watching the Compaq Center team, and I love them even more now. In today’s world where logos and brands have become increasingly minimalistic, personality has gotten lost in the process.
Every logo today compared to the past, including the NBA. We’ve gone from expressive, fun, and creative designs to another variation of the arial font and colors to match.
There’s a reason many of today’s NBA players and fans love this colorway. It’s garnered so much love that it’s risen from the dead in the form of today’s City Edition jersey.
Nonetheless, I still get why the 99ers (Houston Rocket “boomer” fans) despise the jersey. He was introduced at a time when the team was draining their depth for Charles Barkley. Whose leg exploded on live TV.
And Scottie Pippen who earned the nickname “Scottie Quittin” when he asked for a trade after eight months. To this day a large number of fans dislike Pippin, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them singing Future’s “Thought it was a Drought” passionately with their right hand over their hearts like a national anthem.
Add the years of tanking with the energy of a Sean P. Diddy Combs parodied “Can’t stop and won’t stop” and it’s enough to make a fan want to use a Men In Black flashlight. and forget that it ever happened, even though the end result was Steve Francis and Yao Ming in the draft.
Ehh. This jersey doesn’t sit well in my mind
In 2003, the Rockets released a fresh new jersey that had a red base with white arches on the sides as if the clothes were peeling off. When this jersey debuted, I thought the jersey was cool and modern.
Compared to the pajama uniforms of the past, they just seemed to have a cleaner look. It also helped the Rocket finally be in the mix of things in the playoffs. For most of its existence, from 2003 to 2019, Houston only missed the playoffs four times.
Plus, we had a lot of great memories in this colorway too! Do you remember Tracy McGrady’s 13 points in 35 seconds? Or the 22-game winning streak (which is the fourth-longest streak in NBA history) or last but not least reaching the franchise-best 65-17 record.
This jersey seems like an upgrade, it has great memories to go with it. But why does this jersey not suit me? Simple, the jersey went out of fashion very quickly.
I’ll never forget when my niece screamed at the TV screen when the Rockets were playing and she said the white home uniforms looked like Chinese takeout boxes.
Then, to make matters worse, for every dreamy moment we’ve had in this colorway, we’ve also had nightmares. May I remind everyone of Yao’s early retirement or his 27 consecutive missed threes in Game 7!
No matter how many changes this jersey went through over a decade, it was just too long for a fan to look at with rose-tinted glasses.
The current jerseys are fine…I guess. I have nothing to say apart from their appearance which reminds me of an AAU team. What I said earlier about the current design rings true about the current Rockets jerseys.
It also doesn’t help that so far this rendition represents the beginning of the end that sent Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook, in a trade where Houston forked over two picks and two pick trades. .
That trade alone sparked a rebuild that featured a team that went 37-117 over the past two seasons.
That being said, this team still has a bright future in newly acquired Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. So maybe the fond memories we may have in the future will make us love these ordinary-looking threads.
Journey to greatness
I don’t know about everyone, but I love these threads. Not so much because they are beautiful, they are not. It reminds me of a can of Sprite without sugar. However, I can appreciate them for the origin story behind them.
In 1967, the Rockets were an expansion team based in San Diego. The team included many Hall of Famers and household names like Calvin Murphy, Rudy T, Pat Riley and Elvin Hayes.
I know you’re wondering, “What’s a team in California got to do with rockets?”
Well, it was named after San Diego’s city theme “a city on the move” and the development of the Atlas missile and rocket program in the area.
Despite all those big names, they weren’t exactly going on all cylinders, as they only had one playoff berth in the four years they were in California.
In what may seem like fate, due to low attendance, the team was sold to Texas Sports Investments for $5.6 million in 1971, and the team has called Houston home ever since.
No matter what the jerseys look like, I’m always open to Nike finding new ways for us to give back our money for the good of the fandom. Plus, it’s a nice change of pace since we’ve never worn a green colorway before.
There have also been many more alternate jerseys over the years, including another black…
and a powder blue…
But let us know in the comments what your favorite (and least favorite) jersey in Rockets history is.