BARRY LAMINACK

Houston sports Hall of Fame misses the mark big time with latest inductees

The Houston sports Hall of Fame missed the mark big time. Courtesy Harris County-Houston Sports Authority

In 2018 The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority and the Houston Sports Awards created the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.

The inaugural class will probably never be topped as the HSA went with a “34” theme and nominated perhaps the best and most popular players to ever play professional football, basketball and baseball in Houston.

Of course I’m speaking of Earl Campbell, Hakeem Olajuwon and Nolan Ryan.

So after launching the Houston Sports Hall of Fame with three no doubters, it’s puzzling to see this years crop of inductees. They are:

Jackie Burke Jr (golf), A.J. Foyt (auto racing), George Foreman (boxing), and Dan Pastorini (football).

Say what?

Yup (two of these things are not like the others).

At the risk of not getting invited to the awards next year (again) I have to say the folks at the HSHOF really missed the mark this year.

Twice.

It would only make sense to follow the best from the big three sports (football/basketball/baseball) with the best from other popular sports, and in that regards, I really don’t have a problem with Foyt (racing) and Foreman (boxing).

Both totally make sense and SHOULD be in.

Jackie Burke Jr I’m on the fence about. Sure he won a Masters...but it’s golf. I’m not suggesting he shouldn’t be in at some point, just not yet.

And I have absolutely NO idea why the heck Dan Pastorini is on the list so soon. Again, I’m not suggesting that Pastorini (like Burke) won’t and shouldn’t be in at some point, just not this early.

If they needed another NFL player (since Houston is a football town) they could have went with Warren Moon, or Ray Childress, or Elvin Bethea, or Bruce Matthews, or Mike Munchak, or Robert Brazile before Pastorini.

My co-host on the Usual Suspects (ESPN 97.5 fm Houston 1p-4p daily), Joel Blank, had the best 3rd candidate not from the big three sports, that being Carl Lewis.

How is he NOT on this list?

My suggestion as a fourth name not from the NFL/NBA/MLB that had played a vital role in Houston sports is Guy V. Lewis.

The final 4 (no pun intended) 2019 Houston Sports Hall of Fame inductees SHOULD HAVE BEEN Foyt, Foreman, Lewis and Lewis.

But hey, there’s always 2020 to look forward too.

I know I’ll be looking forward (to not being invited) to it.

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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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