ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why the 1997 Houston Rockets Were One of the Best Teams to Not Win a Championship

Updated on July 30, 2020
CELEBSFAN78 profile image

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Introduction to the 1997 Houston Rockets and Scope of the Article

In the history of the NBA (National Basketball Association), there are teams that have been very talented but they have not won a championship. One such example of a team like this is the 1997 Houston Rockets. This Houston Rockets team had star players Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Clyde Drexler. Drexler had won a championship with Houston just two years earlier in 1995 when he was acquired from the Portland Trailblazers. This article is about why the 1996-1997 Houston Rockets team was one of the best teams to never win a championship. In trying to provide an analysis of this team since I was a basketball fan at least all the way through 2010, I can think of at least 3 major reasons why this team did not win a championship in spite of the fact that they had a 57-25 record during the season and several talented veteran basketball players.

Houston Rockets Team Logo


Age Was a Big Issue for This Houston Rockets Basketball Team

Age of the star players and the bench players: By this point in their careers, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, and Hakeem Olajuwon were all in their early to mid-30’s and they were a step slower. The next capsule goes into further detail about how the age of this Houston Rockets basketball team was a major disadvantage for them.

This Houston Rockets Team Was an Older, Slower Basketball Team

In basketball, age makes a big difference. The constant running up and down the hardwood floors over an 82 game season and the playoffs can result in fatigue and injuries. Typically when a team’s star players are 34 or older, winning a championship becomes very difficult to do. In addition to this, bench players such as Kevin Willis, Sedale Threatt, and Eddie Johnson were even older and past their peak effectiveness. I remember Kevin Willis playing when he was with the Atlanta Hawks in the 1980’s. Sedale Threatt proved to be a very effective defensive point guard earlier in his career when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers. Eddie Johnson who had made that great three point basket at the end of Game 4 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals was at the end of his career because he was 38 years old. John Stockton and Karl Malone were veterans as well but Stockton had a game that he will remember forever.

Length of the NBA Season Caught Up With These Houston Players

The length of the season caught up with the Houston Rockets-The Houston Rockets by this point in the year had gone through a full 82 game season and they had barely beaten the Seattle Supersonics in 7 games. The Seattle Sonics had gone to the NBA Finals the previous season. The Utah Jazz on the other hand had not had a grueling series to this point and they were fresher. In 1999 when these Houston Rockets were at the end of their first round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Doug Collins basically summed it up this way: the Lakers have the younger, fresher legs. In this 1997 Western Conference match up though, we could make the case that the wear and tear of the season had an effect on the Rockets’ performance.

Other Great NBA Teams That Did Not Win a Championship

Team Name
Year of Loss
Team's Record During the Season
Head Coach of Losing Team
Team They Lost To
Los Angeles Lakers
Pat Riley
Detroit Pistons (NBA Finals 4-0)
Los Angeles Lakers
Pat Riley
Phoenix Suns (Western Conference Semifinals 4-1)
Los Angeles Lakers
Mike Dunleavy
Chicago Bulls (NBA Finals 4-1)
Golden State Warriors
Steve Kerr
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA Finals 4-3)

The Superb Offense by John Stockton

The play of Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton ended the Rockets’ hopes of winning a championship. John Stockton had 25 points and 13 assists but he had 11 huge points in that crucial 4th quarter including the famous game winning three pointer that beat Houston and sent them home for the summer.

Additional reasons for the 1997 Houston Rockets Loss In 1997

As I analyze and try to look back on the reasons why this 1997 Houston Rockets team did not win an NBA title, even if they had beaten the 64 win Utah Jazz team and NBA MVP Karl Malone, they would have more than likely lost to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals mainly because Michael Jordan was too great of a talent and he would have found a way to make his team better. Also, in the Western Conference Finals, Charles Barkley was only averaging just over 15 points per game in the series which was not enough for him. Even with a superb game by Clyde Drexler in Game 6, the Rockets still lost the game 103-100. They would however almost get to the NBA Finals again in 2018, barely losing to the Golden State Warriors in seven games.

John Stockton's Performance Was One of the Reasons for the Houston Rockets Loss in 1997

© 2018 Ara Vahanian


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)