The Rockets have been playing in Houston since 1971. They’ve won two championships in their history, in 1994 and 1995. GM Daryl Morey takes the blame for the Rockets not getting any further, despite having the NBA MVP for 2018, point guard James Harden, on the payroll since 2012.
“We’ve worked together for eight or nine years now and I couldn’t have a better partner to try and win a title with,” Morey said of Harden, according to NBC Sports. “And in fact, most days I wake up saying, ‘I’ve let him down because I haven’t gotten him the right players to win a title.’ “
Daryl Morey’s tenure as the Rocket’s GM
Morey was boosted to GM status following the 2006-07 season. There’s little doubt the team has been on the rise since. The Rockets have made it to the playoffs 10 times and earned their division titles the past two years.
Morey, a Wisconsin native, earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Northwestern University. According to EY-Parthenon, he also has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Having worked for the Boston Celtics for three years as their SVP of Operations, he was hired as Assistant GM for the Rockets in 2006 being named GM a year later.
In 2018, Morey was picked as NBA’s Executive of the Year, a title voted on by fellow managers, with the Rockets having finished with their best year ever with a 65-17 record. Recently, he was named second top manager in the NBA by The Ringer falling behind the Toronto Raptor’s Masai Ujiri.
This year, before the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Rockets again earned their way to the playoffs, when play resumes. One key to the team’s success is Morey’s being able to land that contract with Harden back in 2012.
He has had subsequent high profile hires including those of Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and the five-year contract in 2018 with Russell Westbrook.
More than a bit of controversy
Daryl Morey’s time with the Rockets has not all been a bed of roses. A single personal tweet by Morey last October sent the NBA’s romance with the Chinese into a bad situation.
As Hong Kong is a special administrative region controlled by China, the tweet did not bode well with the Chinese, sending the billion-dollar love affair into a downward spiral.
“In the eyes of China’s leadership, Morey represented a foreign power encouraging these demonstrations. The Chinese consulate in Houston denounced Morey’s tweet, saying it was ‘deeply shocked’ by his ‘erroneous comments,'” Sporting News reported.
Chinese officials asked for Morey to be fired, something the NBA was unwilling to do. While Morey and the NBA continue to do damage control, as of May, China will not agree to resume the airing of NBA games, according to ESPN.
Has Daryl Morey let James Harden and the Rockets down?
Although Morey wants to take the blame for the Rockets not earning a recent championship, analysts say, no.
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “I think it’s a great job of GM’ing,” although he is sure Morey feels that way stating that Harden has not been able to “cash in on” some big moments his career.
No matter who is to blame, Morey feels the table is set for his team to earn that championship title this season, despite COVID-19.
“We’ve seen real pressure in the world right now and thankfully some material changes are being made. Basketball pressure wise, it’s a lot. Two of the greatest players ever on our team, we should win this thing,” Morey said on a FOX Sports’ First Things First interview.
Harden is once again up for MVP consideration, and when the season resumes, he will be accompanied on the court by Westbrook and surrounded by other key players. They’re certainly going to give it their darnedest to make this season a championship year.