Highlights from “Rocket Launch” in the Rio Grande Valley

The Houston Rockets gave their minor-league fans an up-close look at the big leagues on Sunday night.

For the fifth straight year, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers — Houston’s NBA Development League affiliate — hosted “Rocket Launch,” a preseason showcase in Hidalgo, Texas that was topped off with a game against the Orlando Magic.

The Rockets are already as close with their NBA D-League affiliate as any NBA franchise. Starting big men Clint Capela and Terrence Jones each spent much of their rookie seasons in the RGV, while guard Patrick Beverley and center Donatas Motiejunas are also Vipers alums.

Sunday’s game also included a ceremony retiring the jersey of veteran guard C.J. Watson, who starred for the Vipers in 2007-08 before becoming the franchise’s first Call-Up and launching a now eight-year NBA career.

Came along way from those @nbadleague days. Enjoyed every minute of it wouldn't trade it in for the world. Thank you @rgvvipers For retiring my jersey tonight. #EnjoyTheGrind #WhereItAllStarted #NeverGiveUpOnYourDreams

A photo posted by C.J. Watson (@quietstorm_32) on Oct 11, 2015 at 10:40am PDT

More from Hidalgo:

Rockets scrimmage in the RGV.

A photo posted by Houston Rockets (@houstonrockets) on Oct 10, 2015 at 12:59pm PDT

The Beard signing autographs for young @rgvvipers fans.

A photo posted by Houston Rockets (@houstonrockets) on Oct 10, 2015 at 1:41pm PDT

Selfie with @CapelaClint. pic.twitter.com/3hTwTJkLQ7

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 10, 2015

The squad wrapping up Sunday morning shootaround in Hidalgo.

A photo posted by Houston Rockets (@houstonrockets) on Oct 11, 2015 at 9:14am PDT

Fans in the RGV get to watch the beard tonight. #Pursuit

A photo posted by Houston Rockets (@houstonrockets) on Oct 11, 2015 at 4:10pm PDT

Tip-off in Hidalgo. #Pursuit pic.twitter.com/9H7TN3GOOR

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 12, 2015

New locker room art, courtesy of @statefarmarenaofficial. #AffiliateGoals #nba #nbadleague #nbadl #rgv

A photo posted by RGV Vipers (@rgvvipers) on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:13am PDT

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