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Billionaire Tilman Fertitta Celebrates the Clutch City Rockets — The 30th Anniversary of the 1994 NBA Champs Brings Out All the Stars

A Special Team That Keeps Doing Special Things Three Decades Later

BY // 03.27.24

Tall. Those guys are really tall. That was just one of my takeaways from the Houston Rockets annual gala benefiting the Clutch City Foundation. It was a spirited evening celebrating the 30th anniversary of the team’s first NBA championship. One that allowed attendees to hear from and occasionally snap photos of the giants of that era.

The glory of the 1994 championship was revisited on this night at the Post Oak Hotel where hotel and team owner — Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta — and the Fertitta family hosted a full house of Rockets fans. Rather than your typical gala arrangement, the room resembled a club scene with carefully arranged low modular sofas and coffee tables. Rockets red ruled in the decorative scheme that included replicas of the NBA championship trophy.

It was not so different from the setting of the 2023 foundation gala that was held in the Landry’s hangar at Hobby Airport. And as is tradition with this event, more than a few attendees embraced the sequins and tennis shoes dress suggestion.

The 1993-94 NBA champs Houston Rockets team with the Fertittas: Tilman, Patrick, Blake, Paige, and Michael at the Clutch City Foundation gala at the Post Oak Hotel.
The 1993-94 NBA champs Houston Rockets team with the Fertittas: Tilman, Patrick, Blake, Paige, and Michael at the Clutch City Foundation gala at the Post Oak Hotel.

Once everyone had happily grazed through the generous buffet tables (roasted pig, sushi, piles of boiled shrimp and more), the program launched.

All of the 2023-2024 Rockets were introduced in the packed ballroom, making for a towering lineup on the stage. A roll call was made for members of the 1993-1994 team. Coach Rudy Tomjanovich, Hakeem Olajuwon, Matt Bullard, Otis Thorpe, Vernon Maxwell, Carl Herrera, Eric Riley, Mario Elie and Robert Horry made the scene while Kenny Smith sent in a video message.

Additional Rockets standouts joining the party were Gerald Green, Steve Francis, Calvin Murphy, Maurice Taylor, Rafer Alston, and Moochie Norris.

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“The purpose of tonight is really about the work we do at the Houston Rockets in the community through our Clutch City Foundation,” Rockets president of business operations Gretchen Sheirr told the gathering. “To know that players who played here 30 years ago who won a championship, who united the city and are still connected to this city immediately come back to use their championship, their camaraderie and those memories to help continue to raise funds for the work we do in the community is great.

“That shows how special that team was, how special this franchise is, how committed the Fertittas are to Houston and how awesome our fans are for supporting us tonight.”

Also commenting on the evening and the importance of the championship and the foundation’s work were Fertitta, owner of Landry’s Inc., and Tomjanovich.

Houston Rockets NBA championship coach Rudy Tomjanovich with a guest at the Houston Rockets Clutch City gala held at the Post Oak Hotel.
Houston Rockets NBA championship coach Rudy Tomjanovich with a guest at the Houston Rockets Clutch City gala held at the Post Oak Hotel.

Of this special reunion with the championship team, Rockets head coach Ime Udoka remarked: “Any chance you get to be around greatness, we are all for it. Our young guys probably weren’t even born when some of these championships were won. The chance to mingle and just learn from these guys (is great).

“We can tell them about it, but to actually get to rub shoulders with these guys means a lot.”

The auction featured several remarkable items including getting to travel on the team plane for a road game, tickets to all the Toyota Center concerts and non-Rockets events for an entire year, and a youth fantasy basketball camp at Toyota Center with a skills clinic led by the Rockets coaching staff.

Closing out the evening was dancing to the sounds of the rocking Bag of Donuts group out of New Orleans.

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