IS THIS THING ON?

Harden played so poorly, a Rockets broadcaster accidentally spoke the truth

We've seen this before. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Lesson No. 1 – on the first day of freshman Broadcasting 101 – if there's a microphone within a thousand yards of you, assume it's "hot" and don't say anything stupid.

Wednesday night, during the Houston Rockets post-game show on AT&T SportsNet, veteran (and we do mean veteran, as in 35-plus years on the air), Calvin Murphy offered a backhanded compliment to brooding Rockets star James Harden. Murphy commented that while Harden had a poor shooting night, he "did the right things getting everybody else involved." True, Harden dished out 12 assists despite scoring only 15 points on 5-14 shooting, including a disinterested 4 points in the closing quarter.

Then, as the post-game show went to a commercial, and thinking his microphone was off, Murphy muttered, "He (Harden) quit," with clear disgust in his voice.

The Rockets lost 114-107 to the Indiana Pacers, with Harden on the floor in crunch time.

In defense (a word rarely associated with The Beard), Harden dearly wants to be traded out of Houston. A good way to convince your employer to say goodbye is to go home early on work nights, which is what Harden did Wednesday.

It wasn't the first time a Rockets broadcaster dissed Harden this season. Earlier, after Rockets new star Christian Wood drove coast-to-coast for a spectacular lefty layup, Bill Worrell shouted, "Who needs James Harden?"

Worrell later covered his poop by saying he meant that Wood didn't need to outlet the ball to Harden on that play.

Blurting out something dumb is a time-honored tradition in broadcasting, dating back to the early days of radio. Murphy should be comforted by the fact that hot-mic blunders typically aren't career killers.

Last year, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were caught mocking military flyovers during nearly empty stadiums during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aikman said, "That's a lot of jet fuel to do a little flyover." Buck responded, "That's your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work." To which Aikman punctuated, "That stuff ain't happening with (a) Kamala-Biden ticket. I'll tell you that right now."

Neither was punished, both still at work. Regrettable comments certainly aren't limited to sports. Idiocy has always felt more at home in politics. Two examples:

In 2010, a hot mic caught Joe Biden whispering in President Obama's ear, "this is a big f------ deal during the Affordable Care Act signing ceremony.

A few years ago, Donald Trump was caught bragging he could "grab 'em by the p----."

Both were elected President of the United States. I don't think Murphy will lose his job over Harden "quit," especially since he did.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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