Houston Rockets Mount Rushmore
OTG Basketball presents NBA Mount Rushmore, where we look at who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of each team in the league. Up next, is the Houston Rockets.
There are a slew of players, both former and current, that deserve consideration when selecting the four members to go up on the landscape. The main factors being used to make the decisions are: league greatness, organizational importance, overall talent, production, and accolades. Two on the Space City Mount Rushmore are sure-fire locks, with the other two being elected after extreme deliberation and examination. Let’s take a look at the four who got the nod.
The first-overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, Olajuwon is regarded as the best player in Rockets’ history. The University of Houston product is responsible for bringing the organization their only two titles (1994 and 1995); he is the organization’s leader in points (26,511), minutes played (42,844), rebounds (13,382), steals (2,088), and blocks (3,740). Olajuwon is a 12x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, MVP, 2x Finals-MVP, 2x Defensive POY, 2x leading rebounder, and 3x leading shot-blocker. Not only is he a pinnacle for Houston sports, but he is a notable member of the city’s community.
Almost as loved as Olajuwon, James Harden rose to superstardom after he was unexpectedly traded to Houston right before the 2013-14 season. Since joining the Rockets, The Beard has made the All-Star team each of the eight seasons; he also has been named MVP, while leading the league in scoring twice and assists once. Additionally, Harden has been recognized as an All-NBA selection six times. Within the organization, he currently sits second in assists (3,615), fourth in scoring (13,014), fifth in steals (797), and first in three-pointers made (1,327). Harden’s personal brand is extremely popular throughout the city of Houston; despite having not won a title, his nuclear scoring and signature moves have stolen the hearts of Rockets fans.
Malone is mainly recognized for his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, but the six seasons he spent in Houston were distinguished. The late-great big man was named to five All-Star teams while he was a Rocket, and was named MVP of the 1978-79 season in which he averaged a staggering 24.8 PPG and 17.6 RPG. He then won the same award in 1980-81, but his tenure was cut short due to organizational contact disagreements. Father time has deprived many of just how great Malone was in his time in Houston; he ranks sixth in scoring (11,119), third in rebounds (6,959), and third in blocks (758), in Rockets history.
Like Olajuwon, Ming was selected by the Rockets with the first-overall pick in the NBA draft (2002). The 7-foot-6 big man was limited to just over seven full seasons in the league due to injuries, but he definitely made his impact. Ming was an All-Star every year, including the 2010-11 season in which he only appeared in five games. The 5x All-NBA selection averaged a career 19.0 PPG (52.4% FG), 9.2 RPG, and 1.9 BPG. I went back and forth between him and teammate Tracy McGrady for the last spot, but Yao connected Houston with Asia. The Rockets are very popular in Asia because of Ming’s popularity on an international scale.