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A history of the Rockets’ uniforms

Can you guess which one is my favorite?

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The history of the Houston Rockets’ jerseys is a brief and somewhat controversial one. It’s laced with one of the most iconic looks of all time and a few questionable choices.

Before we get started, shout out to the green and yellow (gold?) San Diego Rockets jerseys. We don’t claim you, nor should we want to, but you’re part of the history, and you are acknowledged.

1971-1972

The first iteration of the Rockets’ jerseys was very short-lived and rarely discussed. It was essentially the same jersey as the San Diego ones — font, color-blocking, etc. — but switched from the green and gold to red and yellow. While it is acknowledged just as little as the SD team, it made for an iconic Tracy McGrady throwback look.

1972-1976

Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

The very next year, Houston decided to change it up and switch the font to the slanted team name instead of the rounded name, but they kept the same color-blocking. It was the beginning of what we all know and love.

1976-1995

1995 Western Conference Finals, Game 5: Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

NOW, WE’RE COOKIN’ WITH GAS, BAYBEE. For nearly 20 seasons, the Rockets donned arguably the most beloved look in Houston sports history. The font, the color trim, the white waistband, the name on the shorts — such a damned good look. A championship look.

It has also stood the test of time. After a nearly 25-year hiatus, the Rockets brought it back for a promotional event, and they have aged tremendously.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, we’d be amiss if we didn’t mention the classic home uniforms. All the great things about the red and yellow ones, but with the red waistband and the logo on the shorts.

1995 Western Conference Finals, Game 4: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Also, (and this is a serious question) does anyone know where I can get these shorts? The red or white ones. Doesn’t have to be authentic either.

1995-2003

Hakeem Olajuwon Game Portrait Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Pinstripes. Piiiiinnn... Striiiipppeeesss.

The choice to immediately change uniforms, logos, and colors after back-to-back championships is easily one of the most baffling choices in uniform history. Not only had the red and yellow look been around forever and got the team two chips, but there isn’t another colorway like it. It also had the aesthetic of all the teams to never change their general disposition — ie. Lakers and Celtics. Even the Chicago Bulls, who, like the Rockets, had only one championship era, knew that they should keep their look, and still have it to this day.

Even though this team made several deep runs in the playoffs, it just has the look of being washed up all over. They should have known you couldn’t win in these.

Houston Rockets v Washington Bullets Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

2003-2017

Houston Rockets v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The common era. The Rockets completely changed their look, logo, font, and colors again. It was much better than the pinstripes, but ditching those unis after a few years should have been the sign that it was time to go back.

Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Despite the fact that I grew up with this Rockets look and it should basically be synonymous with basketball for me, I can’t even call it “iconic,” let alone that I like it. It was just... a uniform.

2015 Alternates

Like all teams during the 2010s Adidas era, there were a ton of Christmas, Lunar New Year, and general alternates, but I decided to stick with the bundle Houston got in 2015.

It might not be the most fan-favorite looks, but it’s one of the few times that the Rockets went out of their comfort zone with their jerseys. While the sleeves might look like the strangest part of it all, a black jersey for the Rockets was completely new and unheard of. The gray was also very new to Houston too, but they did have a gray Christmas look, so not as unusual as the black, but just as rare at that point. Then, there’s the legendary Clutch City look. Houston had done a few throwback-inspired alternates by this point, but the Clutch City logo was the first of its kind for the team. Overall, it was a fun year for alternates — something the team really never does.

2017-2019

Houston Rockets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

It almost feels wrong to call these the Chris Paul-era unis, but it’s probably the most prevalent thing about this two-year span of jerseys — aside from the fact that it was the first iteration of the Nike unis.

There wasn’t much different about them aside from the fact that it had the Nike logo on the lapel and the striping on the sides of the jerseys. Also, maybe the gray was MORE gray or thicker? Not sure.

Western Conference Semifinals - Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

They also rolled out the alternate red and black unis, the black coming in 2018-2019, that sported the throwback slanted “Houston” logo on the front. Both were actually really good looks for the team, and the maroon/burgundy trim on the red alternates were a nice touch. Not to mention, 2018-2019 was the first we saw of the ROKiT logo on the left lapel. Not even being a hater right now, I have no clue what ROKiT does.

2019-Present Day

NBA.com

Again, 2019 saw a new opportunity for the Rockets to make yet another huge change. Instead of the traditional home and away with alternates options, Nike and the NBA moved to a four-jersey rotation, with Houston bringing back the ketchup-and-mustard look for their “Classic” jersey option.

Maybe we’re so far removed from basketball, or these are just THAT new, but I honestly can’t picture a single player in these. Still, I think this was a good move for Houston. There was a greater emphasis on that Rocket red, they ditched that space-y font for bold letters, and made black their tertiary color instead of gray (but gray is still listed as their official tertiary color). They also brought back the black statement jersey again, which I believe is well executed.

Houston Rockets v New York Knicks Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Lastly, after years of the Rockets paying homage to their deep Chinese fanbase with their Lunar New Year “City Edition” jerseys, they decided it was time to pay homage to the city’s history, and they did so with their NASA-inspired kit.

Again, overall a nice, clean look, but with a bunch of fun details you can read about here.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, my biggest takeaway from this newest roll out is *ahem* PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAKE THE “THROWBACKS” THE “CURRENTS.” Seriously, they look incredible. The biggest crime regarding these jerseys is that, for all we know, this will be the last season they wear the throwbacks for a while, and considering that, if the NBA DOES return, there will be no need for promotional events without fans, we may have already seen the last of these for some time. There’s no real reason why the organization has shied away from these for so long, but you’d think they’d get more love after 20 years and two championships.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The exciting thing about the newest jersey rotation format is that there leaves plenty of options available for the Rockets to add new looks and bring other classic looks into the fray. I mean, the team has only so many throwback jerseys. You can’t keep that ketchup and mustard away from us for long..

Poll

What is your favorite jersey era?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    1971-1972
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    1972-1976
    (11 votes)
  • 64%
    1976-1995
    (159 votes)
  • 11%
    1995-2003
    (29 votes)
  • 2%
    2003-2017
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    2015 Alternates
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    2017-2019
    (6 votes)
  • 10%
    Current
    (26 votes)
245 votes total Vote Now