With their sights set on leaping into the ranks of Western Conference contenders, the Rockets unveiled this week a $7 million upgrade that takes the team's Toyota Center's locker room and facilities to a whole new level.
The building's upgrades include a state-of-the-art LED board above the players' lockers and improvements to the weight room and training room.
"[Owner Leslie] Alexander spared no expense, $7 million in upgrades," Rockets GM Daryl Morey said, while providing a video tour to CSN Houston. "We're doing some things that no one has ever done. The boards over the lockers where we can obviously do some eye candy.... and also communicate key messages, statistics to the players. We can give them instant feedback and help them improve all the time."
The LED boards above the lockers can show one continuous image wrapping around the room or they can be broken down into individual screens for each player. Scouting reports, points of emphasis or friendly reminders can be delivered on the screens before and after games, and at halftime.
The facility improvements include an open team meeting room, a large bathroom area adjacent to a workout room, and a lounge area with couches and televisions. The workout room now includes a ping pong table and a portion of a basketball court (one hoop and the key area) that allows for defensive drill work.
"The overall theme was to get everyone together," Morey explained to CSN Houston. "Everything is about collaboration, there's no walls. Everything is glass, everything is open, just to create a real culture of working together."
The Toyota Center isn't exactly an old barn, as it just opened in 2003 and hosted All-Star Weekend this year. Still, NBA teams have been in a bit of an arms race when it comes to amenities for some time now, and the new digs help Houston keep up with -- and perhaps surpass -- the Joneses (and Cubans). The Houston Chronicle reports that the upgrades made an immediate impression on the Rockets' players.
“I never saw so many TVs in one room, LDs, TVs in every room,” Donatas Motiejunas said. “I liked the one before. I didn’t have problems with the rooms before, but this is ridiculous. It has everything. I’m still kind of lost over there. They got their $7 million worth.”
“We just finished a beautiful locker room,” Dwight Howard said. “Everything in it is just for us to go out there and play better. They’ve done their jobs. Now it’s up to us.”
Howard, James Harden, Jeremy Lin and the rest of the Rockets will open preseason play on Saturday, Oct. 5, against the Pelicans in Houston before playing international exhibitions in the Philippines and Taiwan.