Houston Rockets to retire Bullets legend Elvin Hayes' jersey

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Houston Rockets to retire Elvin Hayes' No. 44 jersey originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Houston Rockets are set to retire Hall of Fame center Elvin Hayes' No. 44 jersey, the team announced Thursday afternoon.

Hayes was drafted by the then-San Diego Rockets with the No. 1 overall pick of the 1968 NBA Draft, and now his jersey will be hung in the rafters of the Toyota Center. Hayes’ jersey will be retired during a ceremony at halftime when the Rockets take on the Indiana Pacers on Friday, Nov. 18. 

The Rockets will be the second NBA franchise to retire Hayes' jersey. In 1981, the Washington Bullets retired Hayes' No. 11 after nine years with the franchise starting in 1972. Hayes helped lead the Bullets to the team's only NBA championship in 1978 alongside Wes Unseld.

The ceremony will also celebrate the franchise’s 55th anniversary season where they will debut their newest Hardwood Classics jersey, which was made in honor of players such as Hayes and the team's roots in southern California. 

“We are thrilled to celebrate Elvin Hayes’ stellar career by retiring his jersey,” said Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta.

“Elvin was the original basketball superstar in the City of Houston and has a lasting legacy with not only the NBA and the Rockets, but the University of Houston, as well. We’re excited to honor Elvin and his family this November and see his jersey hang where it belongs, alongside the other legends from our franchise’s storied history.”

Hayes’ No. 44 jersey was also retired at the University of Houston, where he played college basketball.

“Representing the Rockets and the City of Houston has meant so much to me throughout my life,” Hayes said. 

“Knowing that my number will stand with the other great players in franchise history is truly an honor. I want to thank Tilman and the Fertitta family, along with the Rockets organization, and most importantly the fans for the love they have shown me throughout my playing career and beyond. I look forward to celebrating this special moment with all of you in November.”

Hayes is now the seventh Rockets player to have his number retired. He joins Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich and Yao Ming.