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A decade of Rockets basketball is coming to a close

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An intro to our upcoming Rockets decade series.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Man, 10 years... like Red and Andy in Shawshank, “When you say it like that, you wonder it where it went.”

10 years ago, Barack Obama was still in the relatively early part of his first term.

Lots of people were still unemployed from the big financial crash of 2008.

Michael Jackson had recently died.

I was single, living in New York City, and still working a corporate job.

10 years ago, in the NBA world, the Los Angeles Lakers won their second straight title, defeating the Boston Celtics behind Kobe Bryant and The Llama himself, Pau Gasol. LeBron James was still in his first run with the Cavs and had yet to “take his talents to South Beach.” Dwight Howard was still Dwight Howard, winning Defensive Player of the Year. Tyreke Evans was your Rookie of the Year. Scott Brooks was your Coach of the Year. Hell, Grant Hill was still playing for the Phoenix Suns.

The Houston Rockets had just missed the postseason for just the second time in six seasons of the Yao-McGrady era. Yao had missed the entire season for foot surgery and would play just five more games in a Rockets uniform the following year. Tracy McGrady was traded midseason to the New York Knicks. Daryl Morey was a fledgling GM, in just his third season with the team.

Plenty has happened since then.

We’ve had two more presidential elections, with a third on its way.

I left the corporate world and the big city to work 100-percent freelance. Got married, had kids.

I lost several of my closest teenage friends (one to addiction, the other to a freak surgical accident).

Over the last decade in basketball, LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami, came back to his hometown, then left again. The Dallas Mavericks won a title. The Golden State Warriors dynasty was born and then fizzled this year. Derrick Rose won an MVP.

The Rockets have had a pretty significant journey as well, struggling as a middling team for a few seasons after the McGrady-Yao years as a squad not good enough to make the playoffs, but not bad enough to garner a significant lottery pick.

However, Morey was fine-tuning his basketball philosophy behind the original Rockets threes-and-free-throws guy, Kevin Martin, who was essentially the warm-up act for his franchise-changing acquisition of James Harden in 2012.

The Rockets moved through several coaches, firing Rick Adelman after the 2011 season before moving on to Kevin McHale, a brief stopover with interim coach J.B. Bickertstaff (yikes), and eventually hiring Mike D’Antoni in 2016.

After The Beard came aboard, the Rockets became a perennial playoff team and contender.

Harden won an MVP (and should have won at least one more; two more in my book).

Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook have all played for Houston.

They’ve changed owners from Les Alexander, who brought the first two titles to Houston back in 1994-1995 and developed a reputation as a top owner, to a restaurant mogul who we’re not even sure yet if he knows what he’s doing.

The Rockets have also become the most polarizing team in the league, fueled by hate for Harden’s record-book busting and Morey’s analytics-at-all-costs approach. In fact, they may have become the most hated team of all-time that hasn’t won a recent title, which is quite the journey for a franchise that wasn’t even making the postseason at the beginning of the decade.

Anyway, with the year winding down and the 2010s coming to a close, it’s the perfect chance for TDS to offer up some decade lists. In these closing weeks of the year, we’ll be publishing best-of (and maybe some worst-of) lists about our heroes in red and their journey over the past 10 years. So make sure you keep checking back over these final 12 days to see what we come with. As usual, you’ll probably agree with some, and others maybe not so much (Chandler Parsons fan fave, anyone?), but the fun is in putting them together.

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) Rockets moments over this last decade? How’s your life changed? The comments are all yours!