Every-Thing Sports

Who/What Does Bill O'Brien Remind Me Of?

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Back at the beginning of December, I wrote my column on Bill O'Brien. "Time for Bill O'Brien to bleep or get off the pot" was written after they beat the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. In the opening paragraph, I called him the Grand Poobah of all things Texans. After the "reassigning" of defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and firing of Senior Vice President of Football Administration Chris Olsen, O'Brien's power has gotten to a point in which it seems only a disaster of epic proportions could possibly remove him from power.

The Texans became the first team in NFL history to lose a playoff game by 20-plus after being ahead by 20-plus. Not even that abysmal failure was enough for the McNairs to relieve him of his duties. Him only having to answer to Cal McNair and Cal not saying anything about O'Brien's piss poor performance tells me just how powerful O'Brien is. He reminds me of several historical figures who amassed great power and/or wealth, despite being a bad person:

John Gotti

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Dubbed the "Teflon Don" for any charges brought against him to stick, Gotti took over as the boss of the Gambino family, one of the top Italian mob families in the country. He did so by murdering his predecessor and his next in line effectively seizing power by eliminating those ahead of him in the chain of command. O'Brien has done the same thing by getting rid of any and everyone in his way. Gotti was eventually caught, convicted, and died of cancer in prison. I know Texans fans are hoping for a similar fate for O'Brien.

Frank Lucas

Public Domain

Frank Lucas came to mind when thinking of those who rose to power by nefarious means. He was a small time criminal until Bumpy Johnson took him under his wing. Known as the Godfather of Harlem, Johnson was plugged into the Italian mob and served as their Harlem representative for heroin sales and distribution. When Johnson died of a heart attack, Lucas took over. Eventually, Lucas found a way to cut the Italian mob out when he discovered a direct line to heroin from Asia. Lucas was eventually caught and convicted, then snitched on over 100 others. Bill Belichick was O'Brien's Johnson. However, he's yet to find his own path.

Al Capone

fbi.gov

Al "Scarface" Capone was the co-founder of the Chicago arm of the Italian mob. He was one of the first famous gangsters back in the 1920s and 1930s. He ordered the infamous "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" in which he ordered the murders of seven members of a rival gang on Chicago's Northside in an attempt to eliminate the competition. This earned him "Public Enemy #1" moniker in the newspapers. He was ultimately jailed on income evasion charges of all things. He died at age 48 from complications of syphilis. When one thinks of how much blood-letting O'Brien has done, one could only hope something small and simple brings him down as well. He's become "famous" for being a buffoon of a coach and de facto GM, yet having complete power and authority.

Omar from HBO's "The Wire"

HBO.com

Omar Little was a fictional character from a tv show that most regard as one of the best shows ever. He was the guy who robbed the drug dealers as well as extorted them. The fact that Omar was gay only played a part in his character's story when one of his lovers was brutally murdered to get back at him. When Omar hit the block, even the most hardcore gangsters ran. He ended up testifying against an enemy (snitched) and sent him to jail, but wasn't killed because of it. What actually killed him was a kid, Kenard, who shot him in the head at a corner store. Too bad the Chiefs loss or the Jadeveon Clowney debacle didn't "Kenard" O'Brien.

These men have ultimately met their demise one way or another. What's curious is how so often their ends are met by unseen means. None of them died in a drawn out gun battle and only Gotti died in prison. While Omar is fictional, his death at the hands of a child was not something anyone saw coming. Lucas was a snitch who lived long enough to see movies made about him and died at age 88. Capone was the peculiar one who died from an STD after being jailed for not paying taxes. Different endings for different men, but all of them were eventually taken out. O'Brien will be taken out as well. The question remains: what will take him out? Will it be him retiring and walking away similarly to Lucas, or will he be taken out by a Kenard (Ex: trading premium draft capital for Laremy Tunsil, but not resigning him)?

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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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