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Top 10 Rockets fan favorites: Introduction and honorable mentions

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It’s time for another TDS Top 10 countdown.

Miami Heat v Houston Rockets Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Every summer, once the NBA doldrums hits, we try to put together some fun Top 10 lists, both as a way to keep things interesting for our readers and to give us writers here at TDS something fun to write about until the news season picks back up again. Last year we did Top 10 Rockets Trades and Top 10 “Could Have Beens.” This year, we’re starting off with Top 10 Fan Favorites.

Now our main stipulation with this list is that they couldn’t be superstar players. It would be too easy — and therefore a cop-out, in my opinion — to just list Hakeem Olajuwon, James Harden, Tracy McGrady, etc... at the top of the list and call it a day. So this list must be role players or secondary guys that otherwise made a huge impact on us fans over the years.

The list of potentials is a long one, and some of these you’re likely to agree with, while others you might not. But either way, all of these guys were fan favorites at one point in time, and we did our best to rank them in order of how important they were to Rockets fans.

We’ll be releasing one per day, but we’re going to start off with a list of our HONORABLE MENTIONS, guys who were super close and that we considered for the list, but didn’t quite make the cut for various reasons.

Von Wafer

Wafer was really close to making the list, but his short time with the Rockets (just one season), kept him off and leading our honorable mentions. Fans sure did love them some mohawk, though. Wafer’s hairstyle and his fiery, gun-slinging play quickly endeared him to fans, and with Tracy McGrady only appearing in 35 games due to injury in the 2008-2009 season, Wafer had opportunity on the court. He played in 63 games, starting 11, and he finished with a career-high average of 9.7 points per game and even had a 12-game stretch where he scored double-digit points every night. He also inspired Ron Artest’s Rockets-themed hair-do during Houston’s postseason run (their first first-round win in 12 years). Wafer would play for Greece the following season, and the Rockets attempted to re-sign him mid-year, but Wafer failed his physical and that was the end of his Houston run.

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 7 Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Carl Landry

Drafted by the Seattle Supersonics out of Purdue in in 2007, Landry was traded to the Rockets on draft night and quickly became a fan favorite due to his hard-nosed play off of the bench and his thunderous dunking ability. Landry’s toughness was legendary, as he was shot in the leg following a traffic accident in the spring of 2009, and he was back playing less than three weeks later. He then lost three front teeth to Dirk Nowitzki’s elbow later that year, resulting in a toothless grin. Landry was in the midst of a career season for the Rockets (16.1 points per game) in 2010, when he was traded to the Sacramento Kings as part of the three-team deal that sent Tracy McGrady to the New York Knicks and brought Kevin Martin to the Rockets.

Aaron Brooks

Houston drafted the diminutive Brooks in 2007, and he became a fan favorite while backing up Rafer Alston, who often drew the ire of Rockets fans for his poor shooting (38 percent from the field while in H-town). Brooks had several big games behind Alston, helping to grow his blossoming popularity with fans, and he eventually took over the starting job after Alston was traded. Brooks was key in Houston’s first-round playoff series win over the Portland Trail Blazers in 2009, scoring a combined 50 points in the first two games, and he also put up 34 in a Game 4 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. He then won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award the following season, playing and starting in all 82 games while averaging 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per contest. He lost his starting job to Kyle Lowry in the 2010-2011 year, however, and was traded to the Suns for Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. He signed back with the team as a free agent in 2013 before being waived, signed back, and eventually traded to the Denver Nuggets.

Scott Brooks

This Brooks spent just two and half seasons with the Rockets, but his toughness and floor generalship made him a popular fan fave while he was playing behind Kenny Smith. In the 1993 and 1994 seasons, he played in 155 out of a possible 162 games— quite impressive for a backup— and he won a ring with the Rockets in ‘94. Smith’s up-and-down play and Brooks’ steady hand and competitiveness was what put him over with Rockets fans, but he was phased out upon Sam Cassell’s emergence and eventually traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 1995. He went on to be the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards.

Houston Rockets v Washington Bullets

Eddie Griffin

There’s not too much to say about Eddie Griffin that we haven’t already. He was one of the topics of our Top 10 “Could Have Beens” that we ran last summer. It’s a tragic tale made even more devastating by the fact that Griffin was loved by Rockets fans, coaches, and teammates alike due to his ridiculous talent on the court and soft-hearted and quiet personality off of it. He eventually fell out of favor with the team due to missed practices and suspensions from his untreated mental health and substance abuse issues and also found his personal life in tatters. Sadly, no one knew the extent of his problems until it was too late, but Griffin was (and still is) loved by many for his “wonderful, gentle soul.”

Bob Sura

Sura signed as a free agent in the 2004 offseason, taking over the starting job from Steve Francis, who was traded away a few months prior for Tracy McGrady. He had big shoes to fill, but Sura quickly got in the good graces of Rockets fans with his energy, toughness, and consistency. He was also happy playing an ancillary role to McGrady and Yao Ming, and he averaged 10.3 points and 5.2 assists per game in helping the Rockets to a 51-31 record and a playoff berth. Unfortunately, back and knee injuries forced him into an early retirement, and he never played another NBA game. The fact that he was replaced by the often-erratic Rafer Alston grew his reputation, as Rockets fans waited through two years of Sura’s injury uncertainty, hoping he’d eventually return. He never did.

Sleepy Floyd

Eric Augustus Floyd had the odds stacked against him from the moment he stepped on the court with the Rockets, as he was the main piece Houston received back in the Ralph Sampson deal. Fans were already disappointed in how the Sampson situation turned out, but Floyd had several solid seasons for the Rockets and was Houston’s primary backcourt threat during some pretty lean years. The Rockets didn’t have much else beyond Floyd and Hakeem Olajuwon for several seasons, and he was one of the few guys on the squad that kept fans excited through a series of first-round losses and playoff misses. He played in all 82 games for four straight years, though he would get eventually moved to the bench with the emergence of Vernon Maxwell and the arrival of Kenny Smith, before being waved by the Rockets in the summer of 1993, just a few months before the start of the first title run.

Eric “Sleepy” Floyd Action Portrait Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

We’ll be starting our top 10 countdown this week, so check back each day as we reveal another number in the list.

Poll

Who was your favorite Rocket out of these fan fave honorable mentions?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Von Wafer
    (24 votes)
  • 34%
    Carl Landry
    (137 votes)
  • 31%
    Aaron Brooks
    (123 votes)
  • 4%
    Scott Brooks
    (19 votes)
  • 3%
    Eddie Griffin
    (15 votes)
  • 5%
    Bob Sura
    (23 votes)
  • 13%
    Sleepy Floyd
    (51 votes)
392 votes total Vote Now