CASE CLOSED!

Here's the definitive case for which player Houston fans should boo the loudest

Who deserves the most heat? Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Which now-former Houston superstar athlete will hear the loudest boos the next time he comes to town with his new team?

Carlos Correa? James Harden? Deshaun Watson?

I’m thinking it will be James Harden. It should be Carlos Correa. Here’s why.

Harden demanded a trade from the Rockets because the team was in rebuild mode and that’s no place for one of the all-time great scorers in the second half of his career. Even though the Rockets made him one of the highest-paid players of all time, granted his every whim and pampered him like a teacher’s pet for eight seasons, Harden had good reason for wanting out. Great players want to play for contenders and the only thing missing from Harden’s resume was an NBA championship – which wasn’t going to happen in a Rockets uniform.

While Harden handled his final days in Houston poorly, pouting and causing a distraction, he forced what needed to be done. Harden is a strange cat and doesn’t possess the warmest personality. He was never embraced by fans like former Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Rudy Tomjanovich were.

Harden will be in the visiting team’s locker room when the 76ers play next season at Toyota Center. I expect a thunderous chorus of jeers when Harden is announced in the starting lineup, whenever he touches the ball and shoots his step-back 3. Rockets fans will scream “traveling!” Yeah, now it’s traveling.

Despite the Texans making Deshaun Watson one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks (at the time), it is understandable why he wanted to leave Houston. It’s important to note that Watson demanded a trade before he was accused of sexual misconduct by 22 masseuses and was put in timeout for the entire 2021 season. He was paid $10 million but had to be humiliated by the Texans’ decision not to play him. Please, somebody humiliate me like that.

Watson believes that the Texans promised to consult him on future front office and coaching hires – and then didn’t. We don’t know if that actually was the case, but Watson thinks the Texans lied to him. Reportedly he didn’t think the Texans did do enough to support cultural causes that Watson promoted. It was a bad employer-employee situation and sometimes it’s best for the employee to seek a new opportunity. Which Watson did. A better roster for more money in Cleveland.

It will be a scene when Watson and the Browns visit NRG Stadium next season. I expect Watson will hear a mix of cheers and boos. Football is different from baseball and basketball because football players don’t get singled out very much by the public address announcer. An All-Pro offensive lineman can play the best game of his career and never get mentioned once to the crowd. Watson won’t be introduced each time he takes the field.

Plus, if the Texans put up another stinker season, there won’t be that many fans in the stadium who care enough to boo Watson.

Now we come to Carlos Correa. I predict that the Astros will play a tribute video for him and the packed stadium will give him a standing ovation.

But why? Of the three departing stars, Correa was the most beloved and treasured. While Harden (wanted to play for a contender) and Watson (felt deceived by the owner) had understandable reasons for wanting to leave Houston, what was Correa’s reason? It would seem only one thing – money.

Correa was playing for a winner, the most dominant team in baseball over the last five years. Fans showered him with affection. His teammates loved him. He seemingly had a good relationship with ownership. He was on the road to being a Houston icon. A legend in the making.

And the moment he had a chance to leave Houston he was a goner.

It wasn’t like ownership told him to take a hike, the Astros offered him $160 million over five years, a respectable (I’d say) and prudent contract. Instead Correa took a 3-year deal with the Minnesota Twins for $105 million with opt-outs after the first and second year. I get it, he’s banking on having a sensational 2022 season, opting out and looking again for a long-term deal for more and more money. Betting on yourself is a wise strategy, especially with Correa’s talent, but please don’t write that open letter to Houston fans saying how much he loves them and the city. It’s coming.

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