Which Has Been Your Favorite Houston Rockets Duo to Have Watched Lose in the First Round of the Playoffs?

Did you know the Houston Rockets have won one playoff series in the last 16 years? I knew that because I live in Houston and I have ears and the Internet. It’s all anyone around here has talked about ever since the Rockets went down 3-1 in their first-round series with Portland.

One playoff series win in 16 years is not that great of a record, if you’re wondering. (Though, if you’re looking for an omen: The one series they won was over the Trail Blazers in the 2008-09 playoffs.) Still, there is a sliver of hope. You needn’t squint too much to picture what it’d look like for this series to at least be tied.

Game 5 is tonight. In the meantime, a reverse jinx: a recap of each of the Rockets’ first-round losses since 1997.

1997-98

jazz

Whom They Lost To: Utah Jazz, 3-2

This one can actually be considered admirable. The Jazz were tough that year. They beat the Spurs, 4-1, in the conference semis, then mollywhopped the Lakers 4-0 in the conference finals after that. They eventually lost to the Bulls in the Finals, but that’s because everybody lost to the Bulls in the Finals back then (also because Karl Malone is a total toad). Houston’s two best players were Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Barkley got injured in the fourth game of the series (tore a muscle in his arm or something silly like that). So, was this your favorite Houston Rockets duo to have watched lose in the first round of the playoffs?

1998-99

Whom They Lost To: Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1

This was the lockout-shortened season. The Lakers were just better, though not by much. (They won the first game by one point, and the other two by 12 points and 10 points.) It didn’t matter, though. The Spurs crushed everyone that postseason, losing only two games on the way to their first title. The two best players on this Rockets team were Scottie Pippen and Hakeem. (This was the year Pippen made the “sorry fat butt” remark toward Barkley.) So, was this your favorite Houston Rockets duo to have watched lose in the first round of the playoffs?

2003-04

Whom They Lost To: Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1

Oh, man. This was Yao Ming’s first year. He was teamed up with Steve Francis. Remember Steve Francis? He was so dope. He’d just dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble and dribble. So, was this your favorite Houston Rockets duo to have watched lose in the first round of the playoffs?

 2004-05

Whom They Lost To: Dallas Mavericks, 4-3

Dang. This one hurt a little. This is when the Rockets brought in Tracy McGrady to help out Yao, which seemed like a really great move at the time. The Rockets won the first two games of the series in Dallas (THE SHAWN BRADLEY DUNK GAME), came home, dropped two in Houston, went back to Dallas, lost that one, then went home and won there to force Game 7.

T-Mac was ready to rewrite his history. (Up until that point, he was most famous for having celebrated beating the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs after he’d led his Orlando team to a 3-1 advantage, only to watch the Pistons win the next three to take the series.) But then the universe took a dump on him. He missed seven of his first eight shots and never fully recovered; his Rockets got blown out by 40, the largest margin of defeat in the history of all Game 7s in the NBA. So, was this your favorite Houston Rockets duo to have watched lose in the first round of the playoffs?

2006-07

Whom They Lost To: Utah Jazz, 4-3

T-Mac and Yao’s second swing. Before the series started, T-Mac was at a press conference talking about how, if the team lost, it’d all be on him, and he’d never have a better chance for a deep postseason run.

They opened up 2-0, same as they had against Dallas in 2005, only to find themselves in another Game 7, this time at home. They lost by four, with T-Mac throwing up 29 points and 13 assists, only to be outgunned BY CARLOS BOOZER, WHO WAS APPARENTLY GOOD ONCE. (He had a devastating 35-14-5.)

After the game, T-Mac gave the heartbreaking “I tried, man, I tried” interview. (I never cared about McGrady more than during that interview. It was brutal. He’s always seemed like such a nice person.) So, was this your favorite Houston Rockets duo to have watched lose in the first round of the playoffs?

2007-08

Whom They Lost To: Utah Jazz, 4-2

Dang. Poor T-Mac.

He lost Yao before the playoffs started (and then starting point guard Rafer Alston during the series) and still put up 46 in the Game 6 loss. Man. T-Mac had it so rough. No wonder he’s switched to baseball. So, was this your favorite Houston Rockets duo to have watched lose in the first round of the playoffs?

♦♦♦

NOTE: The Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 4-2 in the first round of the 2008-09 playoffs. That was of course the year that T-Mac was out injured. Why does the universe hate Tracy McGrady so much? I’m almost glad he didn’t win a title last year with the Spurs. I’m almost certain he’d have hated that.

♦♦♦

2012-13

Whom They Lost To: Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-2

Houston’s two best players: James Harden (yikes) and Chandler Parsons (YIKES). Their third best player: Patrick Beverley, but only because he ended up ripping Russell Westbrook’s knee innards into strips of ribbon, knocking him out of basketball for 500 years or something. But karma took short-term care of the Rockets. They lost in the first round, despite Beverley’s assassination attempt. So, was this your favorite Houston Rockets duo to have watched lose in the first round of the playoffs?

Filed Under: NBA, NBA Playoffs, Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets, Tracy McGrady, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shea Serrano, Utah Jazz, Karl Malone

screen-shot-2013-09-17-at-9-12-58-am

Shea Serrano is a staff writer for Grantland. He recently published his first book, Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book.

Archive @ SheaSerrano