The Houston Rockets annouced earlier this week that they will retire the number 44 jersey of former team star Elvin Hayes.
Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta said:
“We are thrilled to celebrate Elvin Hayes’ stellar career by retiring his jersey. Elvin was the original basketball superstar in the City of Houston and has a lasting legacy with not only the NBA and the Rockets, but the University of Houston as well. We’re excited to honor Elvin and his family this November and see his jersey hang where it belongs, alongside the other legends from our franchise’s storied history.”
Hayes is a member of the NBA’s 75th anniversary team, a Hall of Famer, a 12-time All-Star, a three-time First Team All NBA selection, a one-time scoring champion and a two-time rebounding champion.
He probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves from casual NBA observers and fans, but was one of the game’s premiere dominant big men during his time with both the Rockets and the Washington Bullets.
He started off with the Rockets in 1968 when the team was still in San Diego and won his lone scoring title as a rookie, averaging 28.4 points per game. He played four seasons before being traded to Baltimore/Washington, where he would eventually win an NBA title in 1978.
He returned to the Rockets in 1981 and played three more seasons in H-town before retiring in 1984. He was later named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary team and then later elevated to the 75th as well and was inducted into the Naismith Hall in 1990.
He finished his career with averages of 21 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots per game on 45.2 percent shooting from the field. He’s already had his number 11 retired in Washington and the 44 retired by the Houston Cougars, and he’ll now be deservedly immortalized in the Toyota Center rafters alongside Rockets greats Hakeem Olajuwon, Yao Ming, Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Carroll Dawson.