Every-Thing Sports

Houston sports: A song of love and apathy

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The Rockets lost to the Warriors at home in game six of the Western Conference semifinal round despite Kevin Durant being out. Durant left game five towards the end of the third quarter with a calf strain. No game in that series was decided by more than six points. To say they pissed away another golden opportunity in consecutive postseason runs would be an understatement. The team is married to a couple bad contracts which severely limits what they can do to improve, but at least they have a former league MVP in the fold to keep things interesting. After all, this team has only had two losing seasons in the last 20 to 30 years or so.

The Astros broke the curse of pro sports teams in this city not winning any titles couple years ago. Although it took this fanbase enduring several losing seasons, many of which the organization boldly claimed they weren't even trying to produce a winner, the fans were eventually rewarded with a World Series win. Not only that, but this team is built to contend for many years to come in the near future. Fans may have bandwaggoned their allegiance to this team after seeing them win, but you can't blame them for wanting to support a team that has gone from laughingstock to model of consistency.

The Texans finally found the most important piece to building a winning franchise when they moved up to draft Deshaun Watson. Before, they were a team in which very few outside of this city believed in. After drafting Watson, the feeling remains the same amongst those not considered hardcore Texan fans because they don't believe in the front office or ownership to lead this team to anything other than mediocrity. The Texans' fans will continue to support this team no matter what because it went through a period of not having an NFL franchise. The fan and ownership relationship is borderline abusive because ownership knows the fans won't leave, so they continue to act as if the fans don't matter.

Can you see now what I meant in the title? Part of my inspiration came from this FaceBook post by a good friend and mentor Craig Shelton. It was the best description of why Houston sports fans still feel love and appreciation for the Rockets and Astros despite any shortcomings they may have, but have skepticism towards the Texans.

When you look at the way things have fallen for the three different franchises, there's no reason why all three can't consistently compete for championships every year. The love and support the Texans get despite constantly letting this city down year after year is why I described it as abusive. Meanwhile, the Rockets can't even get a full house before tipoff of major games and the Astros play in front of a less than capacity crowd even when one of the premier MLB teams is in town during the week and sometimes on weekends. Yet the Texans will have sold-out games and thousands more tailgating for a Thursday night game against any random NFL team simply because it's an NFL team.

I sincerely hope one day that all three franchises will bring consistent winners to this city. The fans have been through enough. They've stuck by these teams, mainly the Texans, despite not being given a glimmer of hope. It would be nice of the Texans to return the favor and bring home a Lombardi Trophy for their fiercely loyal fans to go with the Larry O'Briens and Commissioner's Trophy the Rockets and Astros respectively have delivered already.

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Composite photo by Jack Brame

As things continue to relax as far as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned, a return to a semblance of normalcy seems imminent. The NBA has some parameters in place for a potential return. Training camps are set to open late this month and the season is supposed to open July 31. Whether that's the rumored Disney-centered one-stop shop or another form, they have a plan in place to return. There's also no argument between the league and players going back and forth about money either (MLB could learn a lesson here).

So when it comes to the potential return, how does that fare for the local team? The Rockets were 40-24 and tied for the fifth seed in the West when the season was shut down. Since they're getting ready to return potentially, we need to be looking at what chances they may have in making a run in the playoffs towards an NBA title.



Harden's new physique

According to his new trainer, James Harden has done more cardio workouts and lost some weight. Specifically, he's done more football player workouts as opposed to basketball player workouts. There was a pic of Harden floating around showing an obvious loss of weight. His new-found cardio and weight loss could mean more late-game and late-season success for Harden and the Rockets.

Westbrook's edge

Russell Westbrook has a competitive fire that can't be put out. It's like one of those never-ending burning torches you see at monuments. He wants nothing more than to prove he's a winner on a high level. Given that he's reunited with a long time friend in Harden, his competitive nature could help fill the gap where Harden may lack. These two have proven they can coexist very well this season. Now could be their time to take surge.

Small-ball

When the Rockets traded Clint Capela, they fully committed to small-ball. There were times they didn't have a guy in the lineup over 6'5. The tallest guy that gets regular time is roughly 6'8. The smaller, quicker lineup is an advantage on the offensive end, but can be a huge liability on the defensive end. Given the stoppage and restart of the season, it could help them. Suppose other teams are sluggish and can't get their chemistry straight. Houston's advantage is that they go through one or two guys and eat off their shooting. Shooting can be worked on during times like these, whereas other aspects of your game can't.


I'm not saying the Rockets have a built-in advantage, but they have as good a shot as they've ever had in the past. The field is wide open to any team that's in the playoff hunt. No team will have a built-in advantage over others. With the Rockets' unique brand of ball, they may be able to make a run at a title this season. Couple that with Harden's weight loss and Westbrook's competitive nature, it could be very interesting. Whenever the NBA comes back this season, which I believe they will, I think this team has a legit shot at winning it all.

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