Unless you’ve been doing your best Patrick Star impersonation or you’re living a life without Al Gore’s internet... the NBA is back! Go on your favorite social media platform, and you’ll see NBA players featured in heavily edited videos playing pick up in which they can’t miss, blockbuster trades, and delusional fan bases that are thinking that “this is our year!”.
What brings us Houston Rockets fans gathering around today as a family, is the recent reveal of the new alternate jersey that was revealed last week. Opinion’s were mixed based depending who you would ask.
Some raved and said that Jalen Green can make anything look good, while a friend of mine said, “I never knew the Rockets moved to Seattle, shoutout to the Seattle Rockets.” Nevermind that the San Diego Rockets from which the jersey was derived actually came into the league the same year as the Supersonics. But before we speak any further on the new threads, let’s talk about some of the jerseys that preceded it.
Ketchup & Mustard
There’s not as many jerseys as iconic as this one. Novel simplicity is what gave teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics a timeless look. Although this jersey was introduced to the world in 1971, it has gone through many iterations.
However, the one everyone identifies with is the design from 1976-1995. The simple red, yellow, and white brings fond memories, as it reminds many of the glory days of Hakeem Olajuwon’s ‘Dream Shake’, Mario Ellie’s Kiss of Death,’ and Rudy Tomjanovich ‘Heart of a Champion’ speech.
Since the franchise has ditched this jersey, it is only karmic that the franchise hasn’t won a championship since. Not only has the franchise ditched its identity, it seems like we also lost the goodwill from the basketball gods.
Many fans, along with myself, miss the days that the team donned a kit that gave Ronald Mcdonald and the golden arches a run for its money.
Pinstripe Pajama Party!
Remember how I referenced earlier about how timeless the apparel was? What if I told you right after winning back-to-back championships, the team changed its jersey immediately? Most brand consultants would say this is an awful decision. But past ownership didn’t feel that way.
Gone was the regal red, yellow, and white, to this off-kilter and loud navy blue, red, and white pinstripes. The clean bolded ‘Rockets’ was replaced with a wonky graphic that fits the ‘XTREME’ ‘90s era of the times with a rocket to boot.
Looking at both jerseys side by side, the decision just doesn’t make sense at all! There is literally no design progression that could suggest this is Houston’s identity outside of a rocket. What’s worse, is that fans were subjected to see this for eight long years (1995-2003)
Despite all this being said, I loved these jerseys as a five-year-old watching the team at the Compaq Center, and I even love them more now. In a present day world where logos and brands have become more and more minimalist, personality has been lost in the process.
Every logo today compared to the past, including the NBA. Went from expressive, fun, creative designs, to another variation of arial font and colors to go with it.
There’s a reason why many of today’s NBA players and fans love this colorway. It garnered so much love that it rose from the dead in the form of a present day City Edition jersey.
Nonetheless, I still understand why 99ers (Houston Rocket ‘boomer’ fans) despise the jersey. It was introduced during a time where the team gutted its depth for Charles Barkley. Whose leg exploded on live TV.
And Scottie Pippen who earned the nickname ‘Scottie Quittin’ when he demanded a trade after eight months. Till this day a large segment of fans dislike Pippin so much, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness them sing Future’s ‘Thought it was a Drought’ with passion with their right hand over heart like a national anthem.
Add the years of tanking with the energy of a parodied Sean P.Diddy Combs “Can’t stop and won’t stop” it’s enough to make a fan want to use a Men In Black flashlight and forget it ever happened, even if the end result was Steve Francis and Yao Ming in the draft.
Ehh. This Jersey Don’t Sit Well In My Spirit
In 2003, the Rockets debuted a new and fresh jersey that had a red base with white arches on the sides as if the clothes were lifting off. When this jersey debuted, I thought the jersey was cool and modern.
Compared to the pajama uniforms of the past, they just appeared to be a cleaner look. It also helped that the Rocket’s were finally in the mix of things in the postseason. For the majority of its existence, from 2003 to 2019 Houston only missed the playoffs four times.
Also, we had a lot of great memories in this colorway too! Do you remember Tracy Mcgrady’s 13 points in 35 seconds? Or the 22-game wins streak (which is fourth longest streak in NBA history) or last but not least reaching a franchise best 65-17 record.
This jersey seems like an upgrade, it has great memories to go with it. But why doesn’t this jersey sit well with me? Simple, the jersey got dated really fast.
I’ll never forget when my niece yelled at the TV screen when the Rockets were playing and she said the white home uniforms looked like Chinese take out boxes.
Then to make matters worse, for every dream-like moment we had in that colorway, we had some nightmares too. May I remind everyone of Yao’s early retirement or 27 consecutive missed threes in a Game 7!
No matter how many alterations this jersey went through for over a decade, it was just too long in the tooth for any fan to look at it with rose-colored tinted glasses.
The current jerseys are fine… I guess. I have nothing much to say outside of their appearance reminds me of an AAU team. What I said previously about present day design, just rings true about the Rockets current jerseys.
It also doesn’t help that so far this rendition represents the beginning of the end which got Chris Paul shipped to Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook, in a trade where Houston forked over two picks and two pick swaps.
That trade alone triggered a rebuild that has featured a team that has gone 37-117 in the past two seasons.
With that being said, this team still has a bright future in the newly acquired Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr., and Jalen Green. So maybe the fond memories we may potentially get in the future will make us like these ordinary looking threads.
Journey to Greatness
I don’t know about everyone else, but I like these threads. Not so much because they’re beautiful, it’s not. It reminds me of a sugar-free Sprite can. However, I can appreciate them for the origin story behind them.
Back in 1967, the Rockets were an expansion team based in San Diego, The team featured many Hall of Famers and familiar names like Calvin Murphy, Rudy T, Pat Riley and Elvin Hayes.
I know that you’re wondering, “What the hell does a team in California have to do with rockets?”
Well, it was named after the city of San Diego’s theme of “a city in motion” and the development of the Atlas missile and booster rocket program in the area.
Despite having all those big names, they weren’t exactly launching on all cylinders, as they only had one playoff berth in the four years during their time in California.
In what may look like destiny, due to poor attendance, the team was sold to Texas Sports Investments for $5.6 million in 1971, and the team has called Houston home ever since.
Regardless of what the jerseys look like, I’m always open for Nike to find new ways for us to surrender our money for the sake of fandom. Besides, it’s a nice change of pace since we’ve never worn a green colorway before.
There’s also been plenty more alternate jerseys over the years including a black alternate...
and a powder blue one...
But tell us in the comments what your favorite (and least favorite) jersey is from Rockets history.