Sports Traditions: Boston Red Sox

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Sports are wild and wonderful and full of traditions you may not understand. From not talking to a pitcher who is on a perfect game to not shaving as long as your team is winning in the playoffs, there are countless examples throughout the years. Today we’re answering the question: Why do Boston Red Sox fans sing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” at home games?

My favorite tradition #middleofthe8th #sweetcaroline #redsox

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Diamonds Are Forever

Boston Red Sox fans and curious sports fans alike have Amy Tobey to thank for that sweet selection. Between 1998 and 2004, she was in charge of selecting the music for Fenway Park. She had heard “Sweet Caroline” played during other sporting events and added it to the Sox’s in-game playlist. Toby “considered it a good luck charm,” and it eventually made its way into the eighth inning of every Red Sox home game.

One of the most memorable performances actually involved Neil Diamond on April 20, 2013. In the first Boston Red Sox home game played after the Boston Marathon Bombings, Diamond flew himself to the city so he could take part in the eighth inning tradition and help the city heal.

Good Times Never Felt So Good

Boston Red Sox fans get loud in the eighth inning, but they always make a statement when they’re wearing the latest officially licensed merchandise and apparel. All looks are available right now on Fanatics.

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Mapping NBA Teams: Boston Celtics

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The Boston Celtics are one of the original Basketball Association of America (BAA) teams, dating their debut back to the 1946-47 season. When the BAA merged with another fledgling professional basketball league, the NBL, the NBA was formed. By 1969, the Celtics had had a massive postseason rampage and racked up 11 championships in 13 years, thanks to players like Bill Russell and Bob Cousy.

The team added a couple of more trophies in the mid-1970s, and the Larry Bird era – which began in the late ’70s – brought three more championships to Boston. Most recently, the Celtics won the finals in 2008 with the Big Three (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen), bringing the team’s total to an NBA record of 17.

Today’s Boston Celtics find themselves in second place in the NBA Eastern Conference as they work to get back to the postseason, hoping for an 18th championship trophy to add to the shelf. Let’s take a look at where the team’s players hail from and what colleges they attended.

The Celtics Come From Here

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Isaiah Thomas, a two-time NBA All-Star, was born in Tacoma, Washington, but played high school basketball in South Kent, Connecticut. He attended the University of Washington for college ball, closer to his birthplace, and was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2011. Teammate Avery Bradley was also born in Tacoma but went to the University of Texas at Austin for college.

#CelticsWin over the Bulls 100-80 ✅

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Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 overall pick in 2016, is from Marietta, Georgia, but attended college on the other side of the country – at the University of California, Berkeley. Jae Crowder, who hails from Villa Rica, Georgia, headed northwest for college ball at Marquette University.

Jonas Jerebko doesn’t hail from the U.S. at all – he’s from Kinna, Sweden. Al Horford wasn’t born in the U.S. either (he was born in the Dominican Republic) but attended college at the University of Florida. Same with Kelly Olynyk – hailing from British Columbia, Canada, he played ball at Gonzaga University.

From the SEC and ACC to Boston

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Two college conferences make up the bulk of the Celtics roster. The Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference each contribute over 27 percent, or more than half, of the team’s players. From the ACC, we have Demetrius Jackson (University of Notre Dame), Terry Rozier (University of Louisville), and Tyler Zeller (University of North Carolina). From the SEC, Boston features James Young (University of Kentucky), Al Horford (as mentioned above, he was a Gator), and Jordan Mickey, who played for LSU.

Two conferences contributed two players. From the Big 12, Avery Bradley played at the University of Texas at Austin, and Marcus Smart suited up for Oklahoma State University. The Pac-12 produced both Isaiah Thomas and Jaylen Brown.

Other conferences represented are the West Coast Conference (Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga) and Big East Conference (Jae Crowder, Marquette).

Heading Up to Boston

If you’re headed to TD Garden to catch your Celtics in action, check out Fanatics.com where you can grab a jersey of past and future greats.

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This Day in Sports History: Jackie Robinson

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On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson stepped onto the field as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. While Major League Baseball players had been doing this for decades, this time was different, and the impact is still felt 70 years later.

When Jackie Robinson took the field that day, he broke the color barrier as the first African-American to play in the MLB, and his brave and determined journey to the major leagues remains legendary.

Robinson was born in Georgia in 1919, and excelled at sports while in high school. His star really started to shine in college, however, as he became the first UCLA student to letter in four different sports. After leaving UCLA, he briefly played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears before joining the army during World War II.

Once he was discharged from the army in 1944, Robinson began to play baseball professionally. The sport was segregated at the time, and African-American players were relegated to the Negro Leagues. He was recruited to play for the Kansas City Monarchs, where he hustled as a shortstop for a single season before his destiny, and his place in history, was sealed.

Etched into history and record books. 70 years later we honor much more than a player. #JackieRobinsonDay

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The Brooklyn Dodgers came calling for Robinson in 1945, as he was chosen by franchise president Branch Rickey in his quest to integrate the majors. Robinson spent one season with the Montreal Royals (an all-white Dodgers farm team) and joined the team in Florida for spring training, all in preparation for his majors debut.

Robinson had to overcome severe racism, including objections from baseball executives and jeers from the crowd, both as a farm team player and as a major leaguer. Sometimes, the protests came from the players on the other bench – and sometimes, they came from his own teammates.

But when the Dodgers took Ebbets Field on Opening Day in 1947, Jackie Robinson’s presence was profoundly more than a player simply jogging out to his position on the field. He broke the color barrier, paving the way not only for himself but for all the minority players who have come after him in Major League Baseball.

Robinson played in the majors for 10 seasons, and helped his team win the World Series in 1955. He also won numerous awards, such as Rookie of the Year in 1947, MVP in 1949, and he was a six-time All-Star. Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, and his uniform number, 42, was universally retired across the MLB in 1997.

Robinson’s legacy continues to live on, and we’ll always take a step back to remember the man, and his major league debut, every year on April 15.

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Home Run Hot Spots: Yankee Stadium

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The New York Yankees have been around since 1903, when they were known as the New York Highlanders, and have done nothing more than win 40 American League pennants and 27 World Series over their long, successful history.

From their early days to the blockbuster trade with the Red Sox for Babe Ruth to decades of stellar play on the field, the New York Yankees left their original stadium in 2009 and took up shop in their new home across the street – and have never looked back.

The House That Jeter Built

The Yankees played ball in the original Yankee Stadium for nearly nine decades. The original, which was commonly known as The House That Ruth Built, housed 26 World Series-winning teams – the first in 1923, the first year the original Yankee Stadium opened for business. Those teams are not only well-known for their many, many World Series wins, but for some of the best players in the business who went on to become household names, from Babe Ruth to Lou Gehrig to Joe DiMaggio to Yogi Berra.

In 2005, plans were made to replace the aging structure with a new modern stadium across the street from the original with the intent to pay homage to their old home of more than 80 years. The new digs have similar field dimensions as the old place and fans enjoy a familiar feel when visiting, while the updated design offers roomier concourses and new amenities, such as luxury suites.

At the end of the new stadium’s inaugural season in 2009, the Yankees again went back to the World Series, adding an MLB-high 27th trophy to their already enormous collection (as a side note, the next highest number of World Series wins is 11, with the St. Louis Cardinals).

 Home runs are a common occurrence at Yankee Stadium, as its cozy size has led to a ton of home runs. In 2016, there were 230 long balls, and the one that went the furthest (461 feet) came off a pitch from Yanks reliever Jonathan Holder. Want a souvenir yourself? Check out our heat map to find the best spot for catching a home run in Yankee Stadium.

Grabbing the No-Doubters

Let's make your Monday better. Tickets are officially on sale! Link in bio. #regram @bhavpat

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At the end of the new stadium’s inaugural season in 2009, the Yankees again went back to the World Series, adding an MLB-high 27th trophy to their already enormous collection (as a side note, the next highest number of World Series wins is 11, with the St. Louis Cardinals).  

Home runs are a common occurrence at Yankee Stadium, as its cozy size has led to a ton of home runs. In 2016, there were 230 long balls, and the one that went the furthest (461 feet)  came off a pitch from Yanks reliever Jonathan Holder. Want a souvenir yourself? Check out our heat map to find the best spot for catching a home run in Yankee Stadium.

Grabbing the No-Doubters

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If you’re setting your sights on grabbing a home run ball, there are a few sections at Yankee Stadium that may pay off a little better than others. Down the left field line, try to snag a seat in section 133, as our heat map indicates that’s quite a hot spot. The other super hot spots are in the bullpens, both home and visitor, which leaves most of us regular folk out of the running for long balls in that area. Monument Park, located in between the bullpens, does have its share of homers as well, but its gates close to visitors 45 minutes prior to the game’s start time.

However, any field-level seat along the outfield likely holds a good chance of a homer heading your way. Sections 135 and 136 in left field and 103 and 104 in the right are good spots, so if you’re not an MLB player and you can’t grab a seat in section 133, try those as well.

 

If you’re gearing up to head to the Bronx to watch your Yankees take on their American League East rivals (and everyone else on this year’s schedule), take note of where the best chances of catching a homer might be, and grab your Yankees gear from Fanatics.com.

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Sports Traditions: Hockey Playoff Beards

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Timeless Traditions: Playoff Beards

Thick. Untamed. Overgrown. Unkempt. These are just a few things you may think of when someone utters the phrase, “Playoff beards.” As teams advance further into the playoffs across a variety of sports – hockey, baseball, football – each team’s equipment manager may lose his entire supply of razor blades. How did this tradition start? Today we outline where playoff beards come from and we show off some of the most recent Playoff Beard MVPs.

Hairy Proposition

Whether you love or hate the bushy beards creeping onto the faces of athletes during playoff stretches, you have the 1980 New York Islanders of the NHL to thank for them. Ken Morrow, Clark Gillies, and other Islanders gave off a more rugged appearance with each game they played (and won). That season culminated with the Islanders winning Lord Stanley’s Cup and cementing their bushy, untamed face manes as part of sports legends.

Famous Fuzz

Look no further than the New England Patriots’ come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons to spot the beard of Julian Edelman. Now there’s a playoff beard!

Just glad Negan didn’t bring Lucille…thanks for having me @livekelly #beardsforall ☝🏻

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While their coach, Bill Belichick, advocates for “no days off,” it seems the playoff beard has been retired for the off-season, according to Edelman’s Instagram account.

officially the offseason boyssss ✂️✂️✂️thanks @piniandco

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Boston and its athletes across most sports really believe in the playoff beard culture. In fact, the slogan for the Red Sox 2013 World Series run, and victory, was branded “#GetBeard.” When it comes to the most recent NHL playoffs, however, Brent Burns from the San Jose Sharks had one of the best beards on, and off, the ice.

Immer schön Lächeln das macht glücklich 😁🤙 #brentburns #noteeth #smile #happyday #sanjosesharks #88 #burnzie

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If these guys don’t have a sponsorship with a major razor blade or shaving cream company for the postseason, they’re missing out!

No Close Shave

For those sporting a playoff beard, and dealing with itchiness or food getting caught in it, we salute you. You may not be able to grow a beard, but you can look a lot more like your favorite players when you’re sporting the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel. And that’s all available from Fanatics.com.

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Mapping NBA Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder

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From Seattle to Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t always known as the Thunder, nor were they always located in Oklahoma. Instead, the team got its start farther north in 1967 as the Seattle SuperSonics. They remained in the Pacific Northwest for 41 seasons, where they notched one national championship (1979). Despite a single championship, the SuperSonics were regular contenders – a fact that didn’t change much when they headed south.

In 2006, the SuperSonics franchise was sold to a group of Oklahoma City investors and relocated to OKC before the 2008 season. While they left their name behind in Seattle, the team’s history and records (including the championship win) came along with them.

The Thunder have had their fair share of playmakers over the years, including the recently departed Kevin Durant (to Golden State) and James Harden (to Houston) as well as current phenom Russell Westbrook.

Today’s Thunder roster features players from around the country as well as around the world. Check out where each piece of the Thunder puzzle comes from.

Mapping the Thunder

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College Contributions

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Checking out the college conferences that helped build today’s Thunder roster, it’s easy to note that a big chunk comes from the Pac-12. Schools like the University of Southern California (Gibson), the University of Colorado (Roberson), Stanford (Huestis), and UCLA (Westbrook) all represent the Pac-12 in OKC.

The next largest piece of the roster comes from the ACC, including the University of Pittsburgh (Adams), Syracuse (Grant), and Duke (Singler). The Big East contributed two Thunder players (Doug McDermott from Creighton and Semaj Christon from Xavier), and the Big 12 (Collison from KU) and Big Ten (Oladipo from IU) are also represented in pro-basketball in Oklahoma.

Heading On Down to OKC

Whether you’ve been following Westbrook from his college days at UCLA or have followed the Thunder from their origin in Seattle, rest assured there is plenty of awesome Oklahoma City Thunder gear at Fanatics.com.

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The New York Rangers History | 4 Stanley Cups

In their 90th NHL season, the New York Rangers are hoping to build off earlier successes and head back to the playoffs in their quest for a fifth Stanley Cup. The Rangers date back to the 1926-27 season. The following season, they won the first Stanley Cup awarded to an American NHL franchise.

While the team – one of the NHL’s Original Six – has reached the Stanley Cup Finals 11 times and brought home the trophy four times, the Rangers have had plenty of playoff appearances over the last nine decades. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best years in team history.

Top of the Crop

This chart shows us how the Rangers’ seasons have lined up over the years. The seasons with a bunch of losses are clustered in the top left, while the better seasons (winning-wise) hang out near the bottom right. In fact, their best season happened just a couple of years ago. The 2014-15 New York Rangers ended with a franchise-best of 53-22-7 but exited the playoffs after losing the NHL conference finals.

The 1993-94 season was their second best winning season when they won 52 games and lost 24. That year’s playoffs turned out great for them as well, as they won the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since they won a trio between 1928 and 1940.

Another two spectacular seasons took place in the ’70s. The 1970-71 season saw the team attain a record of 49-18, where they lost in the NHL semifinals that year. The following season, however, they went 48-17 and got back to the Stanley Cup Final, losing 4-2 to the Boston Bruins.

At Season’s End

Out of all their seasons, the “Broadway Blueshirts” failed to make the playoffs 31 times. However, that leaves plenty to talk about regarding their postseason play. They’ve exited out of the playoffs after losing the NHL semifinals 16 times. They’ve bowed out seven times after the quarterfinals, and lost the Stanley Cup Final the same number of times.

They’ve lost the conference semifinals and division semifinals five times each, and have lost the conference finals and division finals four times each in their long history. They failed to advance past the conference quarterfinals three times and were bounced after the first round only once – last season.

When a team is a regular contender, that doesn’t always mean they go all the way and bring the Stanley Cup home. For the Rangers, though, they’ve done it four times, and have advanced to the finals a grand total of 11 times – most recently in the 2013-14 season.

The Top Rangers Coaches

Hall-of-Famer Lester Patrick was a very successful first coach of the New York Rangers. Patrick had a points percentage of 81. As their coach during the team’s first 13 seasons, he led them to two of their four Stanley Cups wins.

Next on the list is Emile Francis. He coached the Rangers from the mid-1960s through 1975 and had a points percentage of 60. He led the team to the finals in 1972 but didn’t secure the series for a win that year.

Frank Boucher, also in the Hall of Fame, coached the team to their third Stanley Cup Finals win. Boucher hailed from Canada. His points percentage during his time with the Rangers was 46. He was also on the team as a player when they won their first two Stanley Cups.

Wrapping Up

The Rangers got off to a bang out of the gate, as they won their first Stanley Cup Final at the close of their second season. They remained in contention for decades (with a few dry spells in between), and most recently went to the Stanley Cup Final just a few years ago. They’ve been under the tutelage of legendary Hall-of-Fame coaches and hope to get back to the postseason yet again as this season winds to a close.

No matter if you’ve been a Rangers fan for decades or you’re a newer fan who’s excited about their recent success, be sure to check out the wide array of Rangers gear at Fanatics.com. You won’t be disappointed.

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Home Run Hot Spots: Dodger Stadium

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have a long, vibrant history that starts in 1884 when they were known as the Brooklyn Atlantics and were part of the American Association. After several name changes and some back-and-forth, they became the Brooklyn Dodgers before heading to California in the late ’50s to become the team we know today. The Dodgers have brought home six world championships and boast current players Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, and Yasiel Puig who now suit up and hit the field at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

Dodger Stadium History

The Dodgers are originally from Brooklyn, New York. However, when the Dodgers president Walter O’Malley sought to build a new stadium, he was unable to reach a deal. Instead, he uprooted the team in 1957 and headed west to California. The city of Los Angeles agreed to part with a 300-acre slab of land, and while Dodger Stadium was being constructed, the team played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until Opening Day in 1962.

Dodger Stadium is now the third oldest continually used MLB ballpark, but it’s had the benefit of a few additions, including new suites, scoreboards, and renovations to the field level.

Dodger Stadium has also seen its share of history-making events, including Clayton Kershaw’s incredible no-hitter in 2014 (just a feather in the cap of an all-around amazing season, including a stellar 1.77 ERA and 21 wins – oh, and his third Cy Young Award).

 

#ITFDB

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A bit further back, the Dodgers clinched a World Series win (and sweep!) at home in 1963 over the New York Yankees, thanks in part to the arm of Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax. The legendary Koufax also pitched a perfect game in 1965 at the same locale. Famed pitcher Fernando Valenzuela also pitched a historic no-hitter at Dodger Stadium in 1990.

Steeped in history, the home of the Dodgers has led to quite a few home run balls, racking up 169 in 2016. Where do most of them fall? Let’s take a look.

Catching Dodger Dingers

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There are a few home run hot spots in the extreme left field – section 53 is probably your best bet if you’re not going to grab outfield seats. If you’re heading to the Left Field Pavilion, shoot for sections 303 or 305. Section 309 is also the bomb when players like Enrique Hernández go yard (he has the distinction of hitting 2016’s longest homer at the stadium at 456 feet). For those wanting to grab a seat in the Right Field Pavilion, try for 304, 308, or 310 to boost your odds of catching a long ball. Chances are fairly good in sections 50 and 52 down the right field line as well.

Whether you’re going to check out Dodger Stadium’s rich history or are hoping to snag a homer yourself, make sure you head to Fanatics.com to get all the latest gear before heading to Chavez Ravine.  

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Sports Traditions: The Masters Golf Tournament Green Jacket

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Sports are wild and wonderful and full of traditions you may not fully understand. From not talking to a pitcher who is on a perfect game to not shaving as long as your team is winning in the playoffs, there’s countless examples chronicled throughout the years. Today, we’re answering the question: Why does the winner of The Masters Golf Tournament receive a green jacket, or blazer, when they win?

Golf’s Most Legendary Threads

The green jacket didn’t start as an award for the winner of The Masters Golf Tournament, but as a way to distinguish club members at Augusta National by founder Cliff Roberts. The 300-odd members are entitled to wear the green jacket, made from tropical-weight wool in a factory in Dublin, Georgia. That’s right, club members such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sport these green blazers beside the likes of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

15 years after the first Masters at Augusta National in 1934, 1949 champion Sam Snead became the first to receive a green jacket alongside his other prizes. Almost 70 jackets have been issued since that time, and winners are allowed to wear them anywhere in during their year as champion. Once another blazer has been awarded, they are asked to leave the green blazer behind at Augusta National for future use only on club grounds.

Winners are given a jacket by the winner of the prior year’s Masters, as Jordan Spieth did for Danny Willett in 2016, but they won’t receive their actual coat until a month later. That placeholder is just for the pictures.

Hole In One

Get ready to look your best on the golf course – or as good as you can with out the green blazer hanging on your shoulders – by heading to Fanatics.com to check out all the licensed golf merchandise and apparel.

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Mapping NBA Teams: Who is Playing at the Houston Rockets

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The Houston Rockets joined the NBA in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets and were sold and relocated to H-Town in 1971 after failing to establish enough local interest (or a winning season). Once there, they soon became repeat contenders and won the national title in back-to-back years (1994 and 1995).

Today’s squad is made up of familiar faces as they work to go back to the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. Let’s take a look at the makeup of the Houston Rockets, where the players were born, and what universities they attended.  

Making Way to H-Town

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James Harden is probably the most recognizable member of the Houston Rockets, thanks in part to his signature beard. Drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder third overall in 2009, Harden attended Arizona State University, some distance away from his hometown in Lakewood, California. Teammate Trevor Ariza also calls California home (Los Angeles) but played college ball a little closer to home when he was a student at UCLA.

Two other Rockets also hail from the Golden State – Ryan Anderson is from Sacramento and attended the University of California at Berkeley, and Bobby Brown, from LA, went to California State University at Fullerton. Non-Californians include Sam Dekker, from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, who attended the University of Wisconsin, and Lou Williams, who hails from Snellville, Georgia.

The Rockets also have a few players who were born outside the U.S., including center Clint Capela (Geneva, Switzerland), Nenê (São Carlos, Brazil), and Marcelo Huertas (São Paulo, Brazil).

Pac-12’s Big Piece of the Houston Pie

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Looking over the composition of the Houston Rockets players who attended college in the U.S., it’s easy to see the Pac-12 Conference contributed the largest slice (30 percent) of the Rockets’ roster. Pac-12 alumni include James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Ryan Anderson. The Big Ten Conference was the college-playing home of 20 percent of the roster, including Sam Dekker and Eric Gordon.

Also represented are the Southeastern Conference (Patrick Beverley), the West Coast Conference (Kyle Wiltjer), and the Big West Conference (Bobby Brown).

The Houston Rockets have a robust roster, and while California (and the Pac-12 Conference) have contributed quite a few members, they’re still enjoying talent from around the country, as well as around the world.

Whether you’ve followed James Harden from his playing days at ASU or you’ve been a Houston fan since they came to town, Fanatics.com has everything Rockets you could hope for, from jerseys to caps to stuff for the tiniest Rockets fans.

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