JERMAINE EVERY: EVERY-THING SPORTS

What is the best time of the year for sports?

Deshaun Watson and the Texans kick off the season Sunday. Houstontexans.com

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” What do you think of when you hear that line? Most people think of the Christmas carol written by Edward Pola and George Wyle, performed by Andy Williams released in 1963. Others may think of the jingle ESPN created from the song it uses to promote college football bowl season. However, I would like for us to rethink the way we see this in regards to sports.

Sure, college football bowl season is awesome. There are about 642 bowl games with random sponsors that pump millions of dollars into the branding of a bowl game. For most of these companies, it is their prime advertising season. ESPN will shove bowl season down our throats like a parent trying to get their kid to eat vegetables. The players get national TV exposure they may not have necessarily gotten otherwise. The universities get commercials run on that national TV platform to hopefully drive up enrollment. It’s usually a win for all involved. Unless your football program isn’t a good earner and drains the universities’ coffers more than it fills them. But is this really the most wonderful sports time of year?

I would like to hereby nominate early to mid-Fall as the most wonderful sports time of year. Here are a few of my reasons why:

Football season starts

This is the first and most prominent reason as to why early to mid-Fall is the most wonderful time of sports year. College football tends to start the week before Labor Day and the NFL gets their regular season started the Thursday after Labor Day. Never mind that NFL training camps start at the end of July, the preseason gives every fan base hope. Every college football fan base talks the most noise on social media this time of year as well. Once their team loses a game or two, it dies off and turns into recruiting talk. Meanwhile, NFL fans are checking every mathematical way their team can make the playoffs. Most underrated part of football season starting: high school football.

Baseball stretch run

In August/September, baseball hits the playoff push. The waiver-wire trade deadline can sometimes provide last minute additions to teams looking to position themselves in playoff push. Look no further than the Verlander deal last season for the Astros. This year, several playoff teams have added valuable pieces using the waiver trade deadline. Also, teams have a 40-man roster which allows youngsters to get important looks and reps in the Big Show.

NBA season around the corner

I know it’s considered sacrilege to speak about basketball before Christmas to some folks, but round ball is still the second most popular sport behind pigskin. The NBA and NCAA have the unenviable task of starting when football is in full swing. October is prime moving month in college football and NFL teams have now revealed themselves as to what their identity is. However, if your favorite team or school has eliminated or embarrassed themselves already, looking into what your NCAA team’s non-conference schedule or early NBA team’s start out the gate might be a nice respite.

*Honorable Mention: NHL, PGA FedEx Playoffs, European soccer, and tennis season ending.

I know basketball is last on everyone’s minds this time of year, which is why it’s listed last. Baseball is typically ranked third amongst major sports, but it’s second here because it’s a playoff run. Football is king, despite all of the ruckus surrounding it. There is no debating. This time of year gives fans of the major sports the most hope, especially since MLB expanded their playoffs to include the play-in wildcard game. Hope truly abounds in football and basketball because the seasons are getting under way. Tweet me and let me know your thoughts.

 

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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