What name might suit a Houston-based team more than Rockets? It is a match! Nevertheless, the Rockets originally were not from Houston.
For the vast majority of owners, the clubs they own are not just a successful (or vice versa) investment, but a business to which they devote a considerable amount of their time and energy. Yet, hardly any of the contemporary owners are comparable in their passion for sports with Robert Breitbard, supposed to be the godfather of professional sports in San Diego, California. Once a professional sportsman and coach, Robert Breitbard initiated the creation of the Breitbard Athletic Foundation to recognize significant athletic achievements among schoolchildren, students, and professional sportspeople of San Diego. In 1966, Robert Breitbard participated in the construction of the San Diego Sports Arena, which a year later became the home for the San Diego Rockets.
The franchise was established in 1967 in San Diego, California. After the name-the-team contest the club was called “Rockets,” as an homage to enterprises of the military-industrial complex located in San Diego, for instance, General Dynamics Corporation engaged in developing the Atlas missile and booster rocket program. The “rocket” theme was present in the appealing, sunny logo of the team. However, despite that, the color scheme of the San Diego Rockets logo included orange and blue, their jersey colors were green and yellow.
The new franchise lasted only three years in San Diego, since low performance, poor attendance, and inattention of local fans and the media forced Robert Breitbard to sell the team to Texas Sports Investments for $ 5.6 million, who decided to move the club to Houston. Actually, after moving to Houston, the franchise did not change its name, because NASA’s leading science and space learning center is located in Houston. According to the club’s management and the fans themselves, the name “Houston Rockets” appeared to be perfect for a team based in Space City. Though the team name was not changed, green in club color palette was replaced by red. The new Houston Rockets logo unveiled in 1972 depicted a bit foolish cartoon-like basketball player with a jetpack that had nothing to do with either Houston or rockets. However, just a year later, the team removed every funny element from its identity: the Houston Rockets logo turned into a stamp, and the uniform had a more monotonous look.
Meaning and History
The Houston Rockets basketball club’s logos reflect its name, which was chosen in the late 1960s when San Diego owned the franchise. The nickname fits perfectly with the heritage of this city. First, it was reminiscent of the ICBM ballistic missile developed by the local General Dynamics company. Secondly, San Diego has always been considered a “city in motion” associated with speed. Therefore, the designers depicted a rocket on almost every emblem, not counting the 1971-1972 versions and 1972-1995.
1967 – 1971
The San Diego Rockets, which preceded the Houston Rockets, had a stylish logo with a blue rocket set against a brown basketball. Two curved rectangles surrounded the drawing in green with the words “san diego” and “ROCKETS” in yellow. The name of the league was marked on the rocket in white letters: “N.B.A.”
1971 – 1972
In 1971, Robert Breitbard sold the team to new owners, which forced it to move to Houston. The nickname has not changed, but the leaders decided to redesign the logo completely. In the same year, a version was presented with the image of a cartoon basketball player who rose into the air on a jetpack and twisted a yellow ball with the inscription “NBA” on his finger. A fiery stream was streaming down from the knapsack. The name of the club was written on the right – “Houston Rockets.”
1972 – 1995
Retaining the yellow-red color scheme, the designers developed a simpler emblem that became known as “mustard and ketchup.” This time around, the centerpiece was a gold-colored basketball with a black ‘ROCKetS’ lettering in the middle. Two red arcs surrounded it with the white word “HOUSTON.”
1995 – 2003
In 1995, the team held a competition among fans: everyone could submit their sketch for a new logo. The Houston Rockets drew attention to the idea of the artist Thomas Nash, who depicted a ball-planet with a rocket flying around it. The drawing was finalized by designer Chris Hill, after which the club presented the final version of the emblem. Thomas Nash was forced to go to court for non-payment of prize money.
The improved version contained a cartoonish element: the face on top of the rocket. The tip looked like a nose. It was complemented by frowning eyebrows, circle eyes, and a mouth with shark teeth. The team used this image to please the NBA league, which promoted the cartoon style.
2003 – 2019
In the 2003-2004 season, the club presented another logo – this time was created by the branding agency Alfafa Studio and the designer Eiko Ishioka. The authors thought of the concept by depicting a large “R” in the form of a rocket taking off. The red ring around the letter represents the center circle on the basketball court. The “R” separates the words “HOUSTON” and “ROCKETS” in an unusual font.
2019 – present
The latest Houston Rockets logo alterations took place in 2019. The logo commits to the space identity of the Houston Rockets. A basketball represents the spherical part of a gray-and-black planet with an orbital ring containing white-scripted “Houston Rockets” wordmark surrounding the basketball. In front of the planet features the red rocket-shaped “R,” which continues to be the team’s primary logo. The rather unusual mix of graphite gray, black and bright red will bring success to the team.
Font and Color of the Emblem
All Houston Rockets logos share a common space theme. At various times, artists individually played with this concept, until the final version was adopted with an “R” instead of a rocket taking off and with a planet ball. The design looks unique: the authors managed to create a minimalistic abstraction, focusing on the name of the basketball team.
The original font was developed from the stylized letter “R” that became the rocket’s symbol. But the font with thin sharp lines and rounded corners were used only in 2003-2019 – after the redesign, an emblem with a simplified inscription appeared. However, the rounded corners were partially preserved.
The color scheme has changed several times. At first, red and gold prevailed (from 1971 to 1995). Then the golden ones were replaced by white and blue (1995-2003). Then the designers used only red (2003-2019). In 2019, it was supplemented with a gray-black gradient, leaving the red “R.”