Clutch City is a nickname given to the city of Houston, Texas after the Houston Rockets won two NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995. The name was given as a response to a front-page headline by the Houston Chronicle declaring Houston as "Choke City", It also refers to the Clutch (sports) performance showed by the Rockets during their championship years. The nickname has also been used in other Houston teams.
1993-1994 season Edit
After Leslie Alexander bought the Rockets in 1993, the Rockets led by Hakeem Olajuwon and coached by Rudy Tomjanovich started the season with a 15-0 record, a franchise record for almost 15 years until it was broken in 2008 where they won 22 straight games which became the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history. Hakeem Olajuwon was crowned as the NBA Most Valuable Player Award and NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Rockets would finish second in the Western Conference behind the Seattle Supersonics. In the first round of the 1994 NBA Playoffs they would beat the Portland Trail Blazers 3 to 1. But in the second round they were put to the test against the Phoenix Suns, The Suns led by Charles Barkley were fresh off their Finals appearance in 1993 stunned the Rockets in the first 2 games where the Rockets blew a 18 point lead in Game 1, and a 20 point lead in Game 2. As the series shifts to Phoenix for Games 3 and 4, the Suns are looking to sweep the Rockets in-front of their hometown fans, the Suns led by 9 at the end of the 1st half. But the Rockets responded thanks to Vernon Maxwell where he put up 31 of the 77 points the Rockets had in the second half as they win 118-102. The Rockets would win Game 4 in Phoenix to equalize the series 2-2, and win Game 5 in Houston to take a 3-2 lead. The Suns would rebound in Game 6, but the Rockets finished off the Suns in Game 7 with a 104-94 win to move on to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1986. They would face the Utah Jazz led by the duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone, The Rockets would win the first two games in Houston, The Jazz rebounded in Game 3 in Salt Lake City, but the most notable part of the series happened in Game 4 where The Clock Incident happened in which the Utah timekeeper with less than 30 seconds left in the game watched as the Jazz were trying to tie the game without starting the clock, still the Rockets won 80-78 in Game 4. They would win Game 5 in Houston to win the series agaist the Jazz 4 games to 1 to advance to the NBA Championships. In the 1994, they faced the New York Knicks who were the second seed in the Eastern Conference and led by Patrick Ewing who already knew Hakeem Olajuwon before as they faced in the 1984 NCAA Championship game where Ewing's Hoyas defeated Olajuwon's Cougars 85-74. Both teams split the first 2 games in Houston as the Rockets took Game 1 85-78, while the Knicks responded in Game 2 83-91. As the series shifts to New York, The Rockets won Game 3 93-89, but the Knicks took Games 4 and 5 taking a 3-2 lead over the Rockets. Then in Game 6 back in Houston, with only a few seconds remaining the Knicks tried to tie or win the game to take the championship, but Hakeem Olajuwon blocked John Starks' 3 point attempt as the Rockets equalized the series 3-3 with a 86-84 win. They would win Game 7 100-95 to bring Houston it's first championship in history. Hakeem Olajuwon was crowned as the NBA Championships.
1994-1995 season Edit
During the first half 1994-95 NBA season the Rockets struggled to maintain their composure that they had built from the previous year. But in a mid-season trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, the Rockets brought Clyde Drexler who was Hakeem Olajuwon's teammate at the University of Houston in exchange for Otis Thorpe. The Rockets finished sixth in the West and faced the third-seeded Utah Jazz in the first round of the 1995 NBA Playoffs, The Rockets beat the Jazz for the second straight year 3 games to 2. Then in the second round they faced the second seeded Phoenix Suns, after the first 4 games of the series the Suns lead the series 3 games to 1. The Suns hoped to finish their series with the Rockets and move to the Western Conference Finals, but the Rockets showed their experience playing under pressure by winning the next 3 games where in Game 7 against Phoenix, Mario Elie made a 3 pointer with 7 seconds remaining and sealed "The Kiss of Death" over the Suns bench as they advance to the Western Conference Finals against the league's NBA Most Valuable Player Award David Robinson and the team with the best record the San Antonio Spurs, Olajuwon outplayed Robinson in the series as the Rockets win in 6 games to advance to their second straight NBA Championships. In the 1995 they faced the top seed in the East the Orlando Magic who made it to the NBA Finals for the first time in their franchise history, The Magic were led by a young Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway, the Rockets were considered the underdogs to win a second consecutive title. In Game 1, The Magic took control of the first half, but in the second half the Rockets responded as Kenny Smith shot 7 for 11 from the 3 point line and hit a game-tying three to force overtime after Nick Anderson missed 4 big free-throws that could have sealed the game for the Magic. In overtime, the teams battled in a close fight where in the final seconds Hardaway shot a game tying three pointer, but the Rockets responded as Olajuwon tipped the ball into the basket after Drexler missed the layup. The Rockets win Game 1 120-118 and would go on to make the unlikely sweep of the Magic to win their second straight title. Hakeem Olajuwon was again crowned Finals MVP. The Rockets became the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit without homecourt advantage in their matchup against the Suns, They also became the first sixth seeded team to win the NBA Championships, and became the first team to beat four 50+ game winning teams en-route to the NBA title.
Usage in other Houston sports Edit
The name Clutch City would be used by the MLB team Houston Astros after their first World Series appearance in 2005, and by the MLS team Houston Dynamo after they won the MLS Cup on their inaugural season in MLS Cup.
- Nicknames of Houston
- List of city nicknames in Texas
- Culture of Houston