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Rockets to retire Elvin Hayes’ number

The Houston Rockets announced Wednesday that they will retire the No. 44 jersey worn by Hall of Fame center Elvin Hayes.

The jersey will be retired during a halftime ceremony on Nov. 18 when the Rockets host the Indiana Pacers.

Hayes, a 12-time All-Star, played seven seasons with the Rockets — including three in San Diego before the franchise relocated to Houston following the 1970-71 season. He played in Houston for one season after the move before returning to finish his career by playing three more seasons and retiring in 1984.

“That is unreal,” Hayes said when seeing the jersey and learning it will be retired in a video released by the team.

Hayes will be the seventh player to have his number retired by the Rockets. The others are Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich and Yao Ming.

“Representing the Rockets and the City of Houston has meant so much to me throughout my life,” Hayes said. “Knowing that my number will stand with the other great players in franchise history is truly an honor.”

Hayes was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team earlier this year.

Hayes previously had his number No. 11 retired by the Washington franchise, known as the Bullets, when he played for them from 1972-81.

Hayes averaged 21.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in 1,303 games over 16 seasons from 1968-84. He led the NBA in scoring as a rookie for San Diego with a 28.4 average and twice led the league in rebounding.

He ranks 11th on the career scoring list (27,313) and fourth in career rebounds (16,279).

Houston also unveiled its Hardwood Classic uniform for the 2022-23 season and it ties in with the early portion of Hayes’ career in San Diego.

The green-and-gold uniform is patterned off what the expansion San Diego Rockets wore in the 1967-68 season.

“Space exploration teaches us to boldly move forward, a common thread between both cities,” the team says in a video. “As we move forward to the next generation of Rockets basketball, we bring back a classic to reflect where we came from.”

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers Hayes, Murphy, Tomjanovich and Pat Riley all played for the San Diego Rockets. Riley, of course, became a Hall of Famer due to his career as a coach and executive.

–Field Level Media

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