If you love a sports team, you love something intangible. What is it you love?
The owner? Not likely. You’ve likely not met the guy. The city? That’s part of it, but it’s not nearly the whole thing - loving the city is loving the city. You could love the city without loving the team, and you can love the team without having set foot in the city.
Is it the players? Usually. Still, the players are transient. If you’ve loved the team for a long time, you’ve seen them come and go.
It’s the team. The logo, the jerseys and the colors all inspire a feeling in you. Yet, even those things are transient.
For example, when I started loving the Rockets, they were rocking the nave blue with the pinstripes. The first full season of loving the Rockets that I can remember was Dream, Chuck and Scottie Pippen (although I first became vaguely aware of them during Drexler’s last year). Let me tell you, man:
I loved the Rockets’ branding at that time. In retrospect, it was all a bit silly. The cartoon Rocket was too cartoonish. The pinstripes were strictly a product of the ‘90s. During that time, design (in the NBA and fashion at large) was big, bold, daring and inspired. Yet, for whatever reason, it wasn't sustainable, was it?
The return to minimalism was inevitable. Unfortunately, the Rockets didn’t make that return gracefully.
What are the Rockets doing?
I remember when the Rockets rebranded in 2003. I didn’t like it then. Their current design is a product of a series of iterations from that moment. There have been improvements, and yet: I don’t like it now.
Why is the R bleeding? Is it a religious undertone? Does it represent the blood of our enemies? Seriously: why is the logo a bleeding R?
The red, black and white are...fine? Nobody would look at the Rockets’ jerseys and say “Oh, wow. That’s a wonderful design”. On the other hand, they’re not going to offend the eyes, either.
Can’t we do better?
When they rebranded in ‘03, I was nonplussed. Meh. This isn't great. Oh well. We’ve got Yao Ming. We could change our name to the Houston Sassy Cats and I’ll live with it.
Twenty years have passed. To my mind, the current design symbolizes the Harden era. If you hadn’t noticed, Ime Udoka (rightfully) insisted that the Rockets pass on Harden in favor of Fred VanVleet. It’s a new era.
What should it look like?
Can I get some ketchup and mustard on that?
This is all I want in a new #Rockets primary btw. Work the ketchup and mustard into the new design, past meets present vibes, get it done. Credit to 2k user xKeepItPlaya although I changed the stripes lol pic.twitter.com/YyguochKIj— James Piercey (@JamesPiercey11) September 3, 2022
This is the first time I’ve ever embedded my own...X in an article. It feels wrong. It feels a little narcissistic. Yet, it felt like the easiest way to do this, so I did it.
This is the way forward. Take the current jersey design and insert the old colors. I didn't design this, so I don’t feel uncomfortable saying: it’s perfect.
There’s a common criticism: it’s too similar to the Atlanta Hawks? The Atlanta who? The Rockets shared a color scheme with them when they won back-to-back NBA championships in the ‘90s. They can share them again. Without getting political, they’ve got a valid historical claim to ketchup and mustard.
Alternatively, the Rockets could go with...ugh...the navy City Edition jerseys they’ve been trying out for the last couple of years. Ugh.
It’s a good design. I’d prefer switching to it full-time over stagnancy. For us longtime fans, those jerseys remind us of everything we don’t want these Rockets to be. They remind us of Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley.
So it feels a bit like bad juju. If Amen Thompson and Jalen Green are the next Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley, we’re in for a decade of mediocrity. I don’t think they will be, but I’m not in the business of tempting fate.
As for the logo? That’s someone else’s domain. No graphic designers were involved in the writing of this article. A return to the classic ‘90s logo would be fine by me. It would probably be best if it isn’t randomly bleeding.
Either way, the Rockets have to do something. We’re at the dawn of a new era of Rockets basketball.
It’s time for a new look.