Rockets Team Up With Vipers

POSTED: Monday, June 29, 2009 - 10:51pm

UPDATED: Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 12:33pm

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jonah Goldberg
First to Take Part in Single-Affiliation Partnership

June 29, 2009

MCALLEN, TEXAS - The Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets, and the NBA Development League announced today in a press conference that the Rockets and Vipers have entered into a single-affiliation partnership, meaning the Rockets will now run the basketball operations of and be the sole affiliate for the Vipers.

The Vipers have always had an affiliation with the Rockets, but shared that affiliation with the New Orleans Hornets for two years and with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2007-08 season.

The Vipers are the first NBA D-League team to enter into such an agreement with their parent club.

“This is a watershed moment for the Vipers and for professional sports in the Rio Grande Valley. The Vipers’ partnership with the Rockets further demonstrates our commitment to Vipers fans to place the highest quality product on the court, and we look forward to the Rockets’ guidance and leadership in basketball operations. Vipers fans should be very excited about the future and direction of their franchise,” Vipers President/GM Brian Michael Cooper said.

In a structure similar to other minor leagues, this new partnership model, previously referred to as the “hybrid affiliation,” allows for NBA teams to secure control over and cover the expenses related to the basketball operations of an NBA D-League team, while partnering with existing local ownership, who maintain responsibility for the off-the-court business operations of the team.

“The Houston Rockets’ groundbreaking decision to enter into a single-affiliation partnership with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers further demonstrates how much of an impact the NBA D-League is having on the NBA. With 20 percent of NBA players now coming from the NBA Development League, it's no surprise that the Rockets are the fourth NBA team in as many years to secure full control over the basketball operations of an NBA D-League team. We're very excited about this trend and the positive impact our new direct affiliation model will make on the NBA D-League, the NBA, and current and future NBA players,” NBA D-League President Dan Reed said.

“Local owner Alonzo Cantu has done a great job integrating the Vipers into the community and we look forward to working with him and his staff to build upon the success they have already achieved. This unique partnership with the Vipers affords us the opportunity to play a significant role in the development of our young players while also introducing a new and exciting brand of NBA-style basketball to fans in the Rio Grande Valley. We look forward to the mutual benefits the partnership will provide both organizations,” Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey said.
This is the latest in a series of moves that have strengthened the relationship between the Rockets and the Vipers, who held Rockets playoff viewing parties and gave away prizes donated by the Rockets.

The Rockets will practice at the McAllen Convention Center on October 4 and 5, and host an exhibition game against the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics on the Vipers’ court at Dodge Arena on October 7.

There are two former Vipers currently playing for the Rockets – starting point guard Aaron Brooks and forward Joey Dorsey. Brooks played in two games for the Vipers last season while Dorsey was with the Vipers for seven games this season. Both were NBA-assignees. Brooks returned to the Rio Grande Valley on June 4 to sign autographs for fans for free. Los Angeles Clippers forward Steve Novak was also an NBA-assignee by the Rockets during the 2007-08 season, playing in nine games with the Vipers.

The Vipers hosted a Houston Rockets affiliate night on March 27 during their game against the Tulsa 66ers at Dodge Arena. The Vipers wore Rockets uniforms that were auctioned off after the game. The first 1,000 fans through the doors received Ron Artest bobblehead dolls. Hall-of-Fame mascot Clutch the Bear will performed at halftime.

Clutch and the Rockets Power Dancers also appeared at the Vipers’ home opener in 2008, when Yao Ming bobblehead dolls were given away.

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