Warriors

Rockets' Morey-Warriors fierce rivalry defined by these moments

Warriors

With the news surfacing Thursday morning that Daryl Morey reportedly is stepping down as general manager of the Houston Rockets, it only makes sense to take a walk down memory lane.

So let's go.

The Warriors really wanted to sign Dwight Howard in the summer of 2013, but the Rockets won those sweepstakes.

Howard's decision laid the groundwork for a Warriors-Rockets rivalry, which began in earnest when the franchises faced off in the 2015 Western Conference finals.

Adding to the intrigue was the fact Steph Curry won the MVP award that year (100 first-place votes), with James Harden finishing runner-up (25 first-place votes).

Golden State in 2016 eliminated Houston from the playoffs for the second straight season, this time in the first round.

The organizations didn't match up in the postseason for a third straight year in 2017, as the Rockets lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the West semis.

But the rivalry was reignited that summer when Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets in late June, and Andre Iguodala nearly signed with Houston.

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Then in December 2017, Morey made one thing very clear.

"I think I'm not supposed to say that, but we're basically obsessed with 'How do we beat the Warriors?' " he told Ryen Russillo.

 

Houston was very close to upsetting Golden State in the 2018 West finals, but the Warriors overcame a three-games-to-two deficit to punch its ticket to the NBA Finals.

And after the Dubs beat the Rockets in Game 1 of the 2019 West semis, Morey created more enemies within Dub Nation.

"The Rockets have been making a data-driven case with the NBA for quite some time that these Super Team Warriors are getting a major officiating advantage in these heavy-hitter matchups," The Athletic's Sam Amick wrote.

Shortly thereafter, ESPN's Zach Lowe reported that the Rockets put together a comprehensive memo.

"Referees likely changed the NBA champion," says the memo, addressed to Byron Spruell, the NBA's president of league operations. "There can no be no worse result for the NBA."  

The Rockets never actually sent the memo to Spruell because they ended up communicating its messages -- including that they believe officiating cost them the 2018 title -- during in-person meetings with league officials, according to multiple league sources."

Then in November 2019, the 2017-18 NBA Executive of the Year told The Ringer's Bill Simmons the Rockets would have beat the Warriors "six or seven" times if they played the 2018 West finals 10 times (I absolutely despise these sorts of hypotheticals).

RELATED: Morey approves of off-color joke about Warriors fans

Morey back in mid-May lamented to Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd.

"Really just one of all the all-time great teams is keeping us from winning. And a hamstring (Chris Paul's injury) probably kept us from a title," he said.

Despite never reaching the NBA Finals, Morey had a very successful tenure as the Rockets' top executive.

He is incredibly smart and definitely will be pursued by other NBA teams,

"Morey isn't ruling out a future return to the NBA on the team side, but he has become increasingly determined to explore what else might interest him professionally," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski writes. "Morey also saw an opportunity to spend time with two college-age children who are each taking a gap year academically during the coronavirus pandemic."

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