There are moments in sports where you remember where you were when this incredible moment happened.
For the Rockets, and for #5 Fan Favorite Mario Elie, his “Where Were You?” moment came during Game 7 of the 1995 Conference Finals where Elie famously gave the “Kiss of Death” to the rival Suns, who led 3 games to 1 to begin the series.
The corner three was the ultimate dagger to the Suns, who saw their season disintegrate and vanish in a flash.
Where were you when Elie dropped the “Kiss of Death?”
I was non-existent. In fact, I was not alive until exactly three years after Elie’s Kiss. We share a birthday — May 20.
But this is part of why I love Elie so much. I never once witnessed Elie play a game in a Rockets uniform but I have only been able to appreciate Elie based on the words and attention he receives from Rockets fans older than I.
You never hear anyone say they didn’t like Elie. There’s a huge sense of relatability with Elie, and I think that has to do with his background story.
Based on the beginning of his career, Elie should never have made it to the NBA. He was not recruited by D1 schools and played at D2 American International.
After going undrafted in 1986, Elie played four years in Ireland, Argentina, Portugal and lower American leagues in hopes to play in the NBA.
He made his debut in 1990 and found himself with the Rockets in 1993-94, the franchise’s first championship team.
Elie spent majority of his NBA career in Houston, as his Rockets’ tenure lasted for five seasons.
Elie was the rootable underdog of the team who laid it all on the line every night.
He draws several comparisons to P.J. Tucker and the contributions he makes to the team. Both Elie and Tucker are physical and tough — characteristics that flourish with the Houston fanbase.
The “blue collar” identity that the city of Houston has built for itself appealed to guys like Mario Elie, as he lead by example.
Several guys we have seen before on this list fit that build, and it more than personifies that as this list nears to the top.