GOW MEDIA'S BIG MONTH

David Gow: A peek inside the family

A.J. Hoffman (center) and Fred Faour (right) had the No. 1 sports show in the city in January. Kirsten Gilliam Photography

Last year I caught up with an old friend.  Amazingly, during the conversation, he failed to tell me some exciting news about his kids.  They had gotten exceptionally good grades and were on their way to Stanford.  A very exciting time!  Yet, out of modesty, he said nothing, and I had to learn the big news from a third party.   His omission almost made me feel left out.

Today I will not make the same mistake.  I will share with you some exciting news about “the kids” at the station, who recently got a very good report card.  When Nielsen ratings came out last week, ESPN 97.5 FM finished with the three top-rated sports shows in the city (for Men, ages 25-54, the standard metric for sports).  The top three shows:

No. 1: The Blitz, with Fred Faour and AJ Hoffman; weekdays 4-7 p.m.

No 2:  The Usual Suspects, with Joel Blank and Barry Laminack; weekdays 1-4 p. m. 

No. 3:  The Bench (John and Lance!), with John Granato and Lance Zierlein; weekdays 7-9 a.m.

As always, there is a story behind the successes.    

  • At 8-years old, The Blitz is now the longest continuous-running sports-talk show in the city.  Fred and A.J. do their homework and know all-things-sports.  For that matter, Fred is now also the cerebral editor of SportsMap.com.  But do not consider them the class nerds.  Fred and A.J. talk sports with an edge, perhaps an air of cool.      

  • The Usual Suspects launched one year ago, almost as an odd couple. Joel came from the Rockets and seemed to see everything through the prism of sports.  Barry won our Rock the Mic contest and as a stand-up comic, seemed to see everything through the prism of humor.  Like most good couples, the two have found a solid, compelling balance.  Sports and humor?  Absolutely: the odd couple is now a successful couple.

  • The Bench.  There are many famous duos: Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Heckle and Jeckle, etc.  But in the history of Houston sports talk, John and Lance stand apart.  When we got the opportunity to reunite them, I knew they would be successful; what I did not know was how quickly the market would come.  In this first ratings book since the reunion, they are No. 1 in their daypart.  And they are just getting (re)started.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the other kids.  In middays, Raheel and Del are rising stars on 97.5.  We have one of the country’s top authorities on soccer, Glenn Davis, who hosts Soccer Matters on Tuesday evenings.  Also, I am often asked: what ever happened to Charlie Pallilo?  We got him.  He is on SportsMap 94.1 FM, weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. And 94.1 FM now includes Golic and Wingo, Barry Warner, Charlie, Nate and Creight and the Sean Salisbury Show.  Check it out!   

Finally, as you read the names above, the family is big now.  Bluntly, we have more sports experts in our building than any other media company in the city.  What do we do with them all?  Our “Stanford” is our new media and new platforms.  All members of the team are now talking on air, writing on sportsmap.com and now appearing on videos here on the site.  A very exciting time!   

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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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