Shooting stars

Joel Blank: It's time to sit back and enjoy the ride with the Rockets

James Harden and the Rockets are a joy to behold. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Your Rockets are off to the best start in franchise history, tied with the 1993-94 championship team. They have the second best record in the entire league and just waxed the Cavaliers in Cleveland with LeBron James and company by 32 points. You should be ecstatic! You should feel like your team is as close to the top of the basketball world as they have been in 27 years, yet Red Nation seems to be as worried and schizophrenic as ever when thinking about this team. Why is that? What gives? Where's the love?

Let me guess, is it because you’ve seen this movie before? Is it hard to trust a team that has tugged at your heartstrings only to deliver a soul crushing defeat year after year? Have you become so spoiled as a fanbase that nothing in the regular season seems to matter and even a division title has no value? Is the only gauge that registers for you how far this team goes in the playoffs, and if they can compete for and win a championship? It seems as though, as long as Daryl Morey is the DJ there is no way that Rockets fans will trust that this broken record will somehow find its groove—come April, May, and most importantly in June.

I get it Rockets fans;  you are hungry for another title, it’s been too long and you have been extremely patient. You have had to endure some of the toughest defeats in the franchises history in the last few postseason appearances. Who wants to remember 2014 and Damian Lillard's buzzer beater that sent the Rockets home from the Rose City? There was the improbable comeback in Los Angeles against the Clippers in game 6 and the blowout victory to clinch the series in Game 7, only to see the team blow a 16-point lead in Game 1 and never find the recipe for defeating the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Let us not forget that less than a year ago, the Rockets were rolling and everyone's sexy pick to get to the Western Conference finals and give that Golden State team a long hard-fought series. Instead of the Beard taking you to the promised land, James Harden and company found a way to grab the tackle box before they could even reel in a big fish and were sent home for the summer by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Yet another, early "gone fishing" vacation. I totally understand that the only way that this franchise and this team will be able to exorcise its demons and redeem themselves would be a trip to the Conference Finals, a hard fought battle against the Golden State Warriors and maybe, just maybe a trip to the NBA finals. Something inside of me says even that might not be good enough for a fan base that waits for the heartbreak instead of anticipating the incredible, if not the improbable.

It's your loss Rockets fans, if that's the way you choose to think. If those are the thoughts that run through your head as this team runs through the best of both conferences and puts on a show night in and night out, that's on you. If you are so caught up in waiting for the playoffs and another collapse that you can't appreciate what you have had in the last four regular seasons, then who am I to tell you to think any differently? Fact is, you've had your best player in contention for the MVP in three of the last four years including this very season. An offseason trade has given you the opportunity to see one of the best point guards of all time, still playing at an extremely high level and making this Rockets team better on a nightly basis. Speaking of team, who wouldn't want to root for, watch and see a team that leads the league in three point shots attempted and made, not to mention scoring at an all-time level as they strike fear in every scoreboard in every arena across the NBA. The team has even added role players that specifically addressed their biggest weakness of a year ago, by being known for their defense first and their offensive prowess after that fact. The simple truth is this team is good, really good. Regardless of how they finish the postseason, this team maybe the best regular-season team in the history of this storied franchise. Sure, we're all waiting to see what happens in the playoffs and we will judge and rate the year accordingly based on how it all plays out. But in the meantime and in between time, why not just appreciate how lucky you are to have a team that can entertain you and rack up wins seemingly every night? Don't you think fans in Brooklyn and Phoenix would love to have a squad to watch that played the way the Rockets play and win the way they throw up W's? At the end of the day the choice is really up to you, but I personally think you're missing the boat because this team is far different than any of those teams of the past.  In fact, this may be the only team that comes close to stacking up to those championship teams of the past and in the process may be the best regular season basketball team this city has ever witnessed. So before it's time for the Warriors to come out to play, take time to enjoy the ride and remember, the reality is, we're all day to day.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM

The Houston Texans approach to the offseason has caused quite a bit of controversy among Texans fans and media. Some really like what the team is doing in free agency, while others are underwhelmed.

But the argument that keeps getting thrown around is whether the Texans are ready to win this season, or if the team will have to suffer through another disappointing season. Most would agree the Texans roster has a number of holes, but how will that roster look after the NFL Draft and hopefully a new franchise QB is taking snaps for the team?

The great thing about the NFL is how fast teams can turn things around and start winning. When we looked at the teams coming off a bad season and drafting around the Texans in 2021, many of them showed a huge improvement the following season.

The Lions were 3-13-1 in 2021, last year? 9-8. The Jaguars went 3-14 in 2021. Last year they won the AFC South and notched a playoff win over the Chargers. Look at the New York Giants, they went 4-13 in 2021. They improved to 9-7-1 and also won a playoff game just one year later. And don't get us started on the Jets. They went 4-13 in 2021, improved to 7-10 with bad QB play, and now Aaron Rodgers wants to play there.

The point being, most of these teams hired new coaches in the last couple of years, added some talent through the draft and free agency and started winning. Why are Texans fans and media so convinced they're in for another season of losing? Why can't the Texans be the team that turns things around and competes for a division title? Especially if they land a franchise QB as expected.

The AFC South isn't a very tough division. In fact, the Texans beat the Jags, Colts, and Titans just this year. Shouldn't we expect them to take a step forward with better players and DeMeco Ryans leading the way?

Be sure to check out the video above as we break it all down!

If you enjoy the videos, subscribe on YouTube for our latest content!

Listen to The Bench with John and Lance weekdays from 7-10AM on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome