Hall of Fame
CLASS OF 2023
Calvin Murphy’s basketball career began at the Niagara University, where he was a three-time All-American. Murphy was an unbelievable scorer despite his small stature. He was only 5’9” but averaged a ridiculous 33.1 points during his college years.
Astros Owner, Jim Crane and Calvin Murphy at the 2023 Houston Sports Awards.
Watch Calvin Murphy's interview with Kevin Eschenfelderon, the "Red Carpet" at the 2023 Houston Sports Awards.
Murphy was selected with the 18th overall pick by the San Diego Rockets in the 1970 NBA draft. He quickly thrived in his first year by making the NBA All-Rookie team and impressed his teammates with his desire to be great despite his small size. His former Rockets teammate Major Jones described him as “a bantamweight who dared to make his living in the heavyweight division.”
As the Rockets moved from San Diego to Houston in 1971, Calvin took ownership of the role of enforcer on the Rockets.
He made up for his small size with his physical and mental toughness, not backing down from anyone, ever. He believed and explained, “As a little guard I have to be fiery. I have to make up for things I don't have. When I clench my fist to hit somebody I'm not making believe.” His opponents understood this, and in some ways respected him more for it. Former NBA player Slick Watts portrayed Murphy as being “a genius at messin’ with you. I always got to make sure he don’t make me accidentally trip myself.”
Calvin Murphy with former teammate and fellow Houston Sports Hall of Fame member, Rudy Tomjanovich backstage at the 2023 Houston Sports Awards.
Watch the musical tribute to Bruce Matthews at the 2023 Houston Sports Awards
As his career continued, he consistently dominated using his speed, quickness, athleticism, shooting, and defensive prowess. He had it all, except for height of course, but had every other tool in his toolbox. Murphy was also one of the most consistent free throw shooters to ever play in the NBA, shooting an outstanding 89.2% from the charity stripe for his entire career. Calvin was a great person off the court as well, and in 1978 he earned the J. Walter Kennedy Humanitarian Award.
Although the Rockets were wildly inconsistent during Calvin’s career with the team, he had the propensity to improve his performance during the NBA playoffs. He had many incredible postseason performances, with the highlight being a dominating 42-point performance in a win of Game 7 of the 1981 Western Conference Semifinals against the rival San Antonio Spurs. That same year, the Rockets had one of the most scrappy teams to ever play on an NBA basketball court. This propelled them to Murphy’s only appearance in an NBA Finals, eventually losing to the powerhouse Boston Celtics.
Watch the Calvin Murphy induction speech at the 2023 Houston Sports Awards
Harris County - Houston Sports Authority CEO, Janis Burke with Calvin and family members on the Houston Sports Walk of Fame
Calvin retired from the NBA in 1983, leaving an impressive legacy. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, giving him the honor of being the shortest player ever to be inducted. He is adored and admired as a Houston legend, spending his whole career with the team that drafted him, and is one of only seven Rockets players to have their jersey retired by the team. Murphy finished his illustrious NBA career with averages of 17.9 points, 4.4 assists, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game.
Staff from the Houston Rockets joined in Calvin's Houston Sports Hall of Fame announcement at GreenStreet.
HCHSA CEO Janis Burke, Calvin Murphy and Houston Legendary Broadcaster Bill Worrell at Calvin's Houston Sports Hall of Fame announcement surprise.
Calvin and his grandchildren unveil his plaque on the Houston Sports Walk of Fame.
Clavin poses with his grand children and his plaque on the Houston Sports Walk of Fame.