55. I consider this to be a magic number for the Houston Rockets franchise. Why "55," you might ask?? Well... in the limited history of the team, "55" has always been a good indication of future success. And by 55, I mean regular season wins.
You see, last year the Rockets finished 55-27 in the regular season. It was good enough to get to the playoffs, but not very far beyond that. It was also only the 2nd time in franchise history the team won exactly 55 games.
Maybe you see where I am going with this now...
Today, ESPN put out their pre-season power rankings. The Rockets are currently ranked 4th, behind Boston, L.A. (Lakers, of course) and the New Orleans CP3s. I care not about arbitrary power rankings and yet I always find myself reading them. Just for fun. But something struck me this time. When I saw the regular season record and Marc Stein's plea for "cautious optimism" for our team - I remembered something from the team's glory days.
You see, the last time the Rockets won exactly 55 games was the 1992-1993 season. That just so happened to be Robert Horry's rookie year. Yes, this is important. Keep reading.
Anyway, in 1993, Kenny Smith couldn't make a freakin' open jumpshot so the Rockets lost to Seattle in overtime in Game 7 of the Western semis. That sucked. And I'm still mad about it. Just like I am still mad about Tracy McGrady being an Initech employee during last year's playoffs. And yet... this is a good sign for the future.
Well - in the entire history of the franchise, EVERY time the Rockets won 55 games in a regular season, the team ended up winning the NBA Championship the very next year. It's true. Go look it up for yourself. So, maybe playing the "Robert Horry role" for this team is Luis Scola... and in his 2nd year, the Rockets will shock the world and win the ring! Again.
Ahh, a story with a happy ending. I like that.