HARRIS COUNTY – HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

Can the second annual Houston sports awards top the first? Stay tuned

Last year's Houston Sports Awards were a big success. Courtesy photo

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

How do we top last year’s inaugural Houston Sports Awards?  

That’s the question I’ve been asked for the last seven months.  

There’s absolutely no way to one-up a night that honored our legendary 34s – Earl Campbell, Hakeem Olajuwon and Nolan Ryan – and ended with the announcement of the creation of the Houston Sports Hall of Fame. And with the news that those icons would be the inaugural class of inductees.

Or is there?

To us, it’s a labor of love. #WeAreHoustonSports. We know what we accomplished that first night was amazing – from the dual red and blue carpets to the dazzling Hall of Fame rings to the honorees. So it’s no wonder it took us the better part of seven months to come up something as creative and eye-popping for No. 2, which will be Feb. 6 at the Hilton Americas.

First off, we’ll be honoring uber-Houston sports fans President George H.W. Bush and his late wife Barbara, who are near and dear to everyone’s hearts. There isn’t a big sports event they haven’t attended over the past seven decades.

George presided over Super Bowl coin flips, while Barbara, who passed away in April, was a fixture behind home plate at Minute Maid Park – feet-up, keeping score. They both threw out first-pitches, sat courtside at Rockets games and had lunch with and watched the best golfers in the world at the Houston Open.

As for the theme? The logical thought, to a lot of folks including Clyde Drexler, was go with another iconic number. Like 22, worn by Drexler, Roger Clemens and Sheryl Swoopes.

But why repeat ourselves?

Instead, we’ve thought long and hard and decided to take you on a stroll through the most outstanding moments from the last eight decades of the city’s rich sports history.

From Jackie Burke’s first professional win in1949 to those infectious Luv Ya Blue Oilers in 1979, a pivotal 2009 season for the Houston Texans, and everything in between. We’ll certainly pack a lifetime of moments and sports legends into this one special night.

Now that we have your attention with those little tidbits, start thinking about who or what we might single out from those years that end in 8 or 9 from the thirties, fifties, sixties, eighties and nineties.  As we reveal them over the next few months, you can see how many you got right.

And, no, we’re not counting the current decade. We’ll be honoring moments from 2018 with awards like Moment of the Year, Player of the Year (professional, college and high school categories), Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year. To name just a few.

Finally, people are already asking about the 2019 Hall of Fame class. Specifically, will any of the inductees be among those moments we already mentioned?

All we can say is maybe yes, maybe no, but mostly maybe.

And here’s one more maybe. Maybe we can’t top the 34’s.  They are after all, arguably the greatest three athletes in Houston Sports History.  But we can be creative, and we can wow you once again in ways you never imagined.  And maybe, just maybe, we top it all.

Challenge accepted.






 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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