Sean Pendergast

Clutch City: An Oral History of the Houston Rockets Miracle Playoff Run

Resting on the coffee table in Leslie Alexander's suite at the Toyota Center, the Rockets' two championship trophies look exactly the same. Both a little tarnished from handprints and the normal wear and tear of two decades of team functions and selfies, they stand proudly, gold basketball teetering atop the gold net and rim.

However, any Rockets fan knows that the stories behind the two trophies couldn't be more different. That 1993-94 trophy, the prize from a series in which the Rockets overcame Patrick Ewing, John Starks and the O.J. Simpson Chase (NBC cut away from Game 5 to follow the chase, then did split-screen coverage of both), was won by a team that was a model of consistency, formulaic but effective. Hakeem Olajuwon and a band of souped up-role players, who played their roles perfectly. Dump it in to the big guy, let him draw double teams; if he kicks it out, just make the shot. And at the other end, DEFEND. DEFEND like they're attacking your home.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast