Barry Warner: On the Rockets postseason failures, Jackie Robinson, Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Football to Canada and more

James Harden was awesome in Game 1, but past postseason failures will haunt him until they win it all. Kevin C. Cox

Playoffs are when legacies are made, not the regular season. James Harden may be the MVP and scoring leader, but his playoffs have been thought of as dismal. Three years ago, again in the final game at Golden State, he had 13 turnovers. No one will ever forget Game 6 here against the Spurs last year when he looked and played like he was from outer space.

CP3 has been a perennial All-Defense first teamer, has one of the best mid-range jumpers and will break your ankles dribbling. His rap? He never won with the talented Clippers, a team that choked after being up 3-1 few seasons ago.  Great player but no ring.

Coach Mike D’Antoni, with the Phoenix Suns, with back to back MVP Steve Nash, Amare Stoudmire and Shawn Marion, got beat in back-to-back years by a pair of Texas teams. The Spurs won in 2005, the following year the Suns lost to Dallas.

Another Rocket season with no bling? Anything other than a Western Conference Final is a bad year, regardless of how management wants to spin it.

We have already seen mediocre Texans teams fly a banner because they were a regular season champ.

Around the diamond

Astros: Just because the Stros lost back-to-back nationally televised extra innings games to the Rangers, do not panic.  Too many men left on base, plus paltry batting averages will change.

A-Rod reinvents himself: For both networks, A-Rod the fraud was in the booth -- the same ex-Yankee who sued everyone except the groundskeeper over his steroid use. He was banned one year for his lying.  Now he is treated like a conquering hero. It’s either the greatest comeback story in the court of public opinion, or a huge con by his PR firm.

Ohtani watch: Shohei Ohtani did not pitch Sunday, as weather in Kansas City postponed the game.  There is a chance he might start next Monday night when the Angels come here.

Jackie Robinson: April 15, 1947 was the 71st anniversary of the day when Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier at Ebbetts Field

Not only did it change baseball forever, and make it better forever, but made America better. Long before Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Dodger became a Civil Rights leader in America. Jackie Robinson became that kind of leader first, followed by fans integrating the stands

It also opened the door for the Latin players.  The sad part is so many of today’s generation of millionaire players don’t know of this great man.

I had the good fortune to twice have dinner with Jackie and his wife Rachael.  Those moments are forever treasured.

Around the NFL

Poor decisions: Now let me get this straight, Texans’ management gave Derek Newton a two-year contract extension after his serious knee injuries.  He showed his gratitude by filing a grievance for $ 500,000. But he is not as dumb as former teammate and bust Xavier Su’a filo. This genius turned down a $5-million-dollar deal at mid-season, preferring to test the market.  He signed with the Titans for the league vet minimum.

Guess he forgot to take any business courses at UCLA.

Draft dodging: If their lips are moving then they are lying.  That is the term used by coaches, GM’s and scouts regarding the draft.  With less than two weeks before the draft, there are so many rumors floating, trying to confuse other franchises, that its absurd.

If I were Cleveland, Sam Darnold from USC would solve the quarterback problem.  That would leave the Giants on the clock. It won’t be a shock for them to take Penn State’s superb running back Saquon Barkley.

Time to move on: Now that Colin Kaepernick made his stand, many feel it’s time to move on.  There are rules in every job, unless you work for yourself. After the controversial ex-Forty Niner refused to say he would not stand for the anthem, Seattle chose to sign another backup.

But there is yet another way to approach this hot topic about players rights that will not go away. Forget about the kneeling. Once again this is more about owners discriminating against players, refusing to consider them for a roster spot.

By the way, this is the same league that took millions from the Pentagon for the made-for-video-boards and television displays of patriotism.

Once again hypocrisy rears its head. Remember this is not about politics or dissent, which is part of this great nation.  It’s about money and fear. Then, again, the NFL has let druggies and many who have been mug shots return to play.

Adios, Dez: No surprise when Jerry Jones cut Dez Bryant. The controversial owner has waived Tony Romo (after he retired), Emmitt Smith and DeMarcus Ware, three franchise players.

The emotional receiver told his teammates “I will see you twice a year.”  Sorry Dez, but no team in the division has cap space, nor wants a receiver who has slowed down.

Johnny football fail: With the two-game spring league over, former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, has a month to report to the CFL where he must play two years before trying to get an NFL gig. He will be coached by well-respected June Jones

Another former Heisman winner, RG3, is now a Raven. Out of the NFL last season, he appears to be somewhat changed, no longer referring to himself in the third person.

Spare me, then show it on the field.

 Ex-con gives back:  Last Friday, my godson Damon West spoke to the UH football team about his seven years in prison. The son of retired Port Arthur News columnist Bob West has spoken to programs like Alabama, Clemson, Michigan State just to name a few.

It is a chilling, gripping story of survival in the joint against the gangs, rediscovering the Bible, and becoming a jailhouse lawyer.  His website is I sat between a pair of assistant coaches who were taking detailed notes of his chilling road to recovery.

I saw a much different side of Cougar head coach Major Applewhite.  He is a terrible interview, soft spoken and repeating all the clichés heard over the years.  But at the end of West’s motivational talk, the former Longhorn talked with no script. He implored his team to listen, take in the knowledge like a game plan.  This time, not on a field, but as a gateway to each players’ future.

It was damn hard following Tom Herman, but what I saw really gives the team a shot at several winning seasons.



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Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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