Every-Thing Sports

"You're not a real fan" guy is a dumbass

Photo Credit: Jermaine Every

Don't you hate it when people try to tell you how you should feel? Or how about when they try telling you what they think you should be doing? Unsolicited opinions are the new wave of social media these days. Hop on Twitter, Facebook, or any social media platform, and you'll see/hear all kinds of them.

Last week, there was a a bit of a kerfuffle on social media here in Houston. Some members of the local sports media (John Lopez and Landry Locker) made statements questioning the fandom of Rockets fans. They are under the unfortunate impression that if you watched the season premiere of Game of Thrones instead of watching the beginning of the Rockets opening playoff game, you're not a real fan and I couldn't disagree more.

"You're not a real fan" guy is a dumbass! That statement is usually followed by something extremely stupid, highly regrettable, and will often be very hot take worthy. Telling someone how to be a "real fan" or questioning their fandom on the basis of them choosing to watch something else because they'll miss the beginning of an opening round playoff game might be peak dumbassery. Don't get me wrong. There are times when telling someone they're not a real fan is absolutely necessary.

For example: I'm a lifelong Saints fan. When the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl and were set to face the Patriots, I wanted to vomit. Most people hate the Patriots because they're a dynasty. Others hate them because of the various scandals accusing them, or being found guilty, of cheating. My son said he was rooting for the Falcons and I lost my mind! No self-respecting Saints fan would ever under any circumstance root for the hated Falcons! That's like a Texans fan rooting for the Titans, or a Longhorn fan rooting for the Sooners! My wife told me I was being unreasonable, but my son understood where I was coming from. I had to educate him as to why it was like cursing in church to root for the Falcons.

Outside of rooting for your team's hated rival, there aren't many situations that your fandom can be called into question. When people openly root for their team to lose games for the sake of better draft position, they aren't violating any fan code of conduct. This happens often when a team is so bad, the fan would rather see them lose now in order to draft a player that could help them win in the future. Some would disagree with me here and that's okay. But when leagues find a better way to avoid tanking, this behavior will forever be a part of fan culture (side note: the NBA now gives the three worst teams an equal shot at winning the draft lottery, while the NFL and MLB continue to reward that top slot based off record continuing to prove why the NBA is constantly ahead of the curve).

Another form of potentially questionable fandom is wishing for the firing or trade of a team's coach, front office staff, and players. Fans will often get frustrated with how things are going and demand change. If a general manager sucks at player acquisition, or a coach can't get the most out of his players, or a player isn't living up to potential or a lofty contract, fans will call for their heads. This too is born of frustration, and isn't a knock against fandom. If anything, it shows a higher level of passion than casual fans exhibit.

When I saw there was going to be a conflict between the Rockets and Game of Thrones, I scoffed at the notion of choosing which one to look at live. I'm fortunate enough to have two TVs in my room (pictured above), so I was able to watch both. I often do this because there's too much to watch sometimes, I'm playing my PS4 while something is on, or I'm simply feeding my ADD. The Rockets TV was on mute because I can follow a game without the sound, and because Game of Thrones was my priority. Lots of people DVR'd the game or picked it up after switching over. None of this makes you less of a fan. In fact, I question the person who calls out the fan for how they show their support more than the fan themselves.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

NBA wheeling and dealing dominated the first half of July, now it's baseball's turn with the one and now only trade deadline looming the 31st.

I've steadfastly been saying the Astros are extreeeemely likely to win the American League West and that their real race is for homefield advantage in the playoffs, with the Twins and Yankees in the American League and maybe the Dodgers for World Series homefield edge. Catching the Dodgers looks unlikely. The Astros have a better team than the Twins, and an easier remaining schedule in trying to catch the Yankees.

For at least a few days though take the Oakland A's seriously. If a team scores about as many runs as yours does, and allows about as many as yours does, that team is basically about as good as yours is. Looking at the rosters I'm not sure how it's the case but that basically is Oakland this season. Since a 19-25 start, the A's have ripped off a 36-17 stretch to enter the weekend within five and a half games of the Astros. They've kept rolling since a month ago losing their best starting pitcher (Frankie Montas) to an 80 game performance enhancing drug suspension. The Astros and A's have 11 head-to-head games left, the first three coming at Minute Maid Park Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

The Astros can win the World Series with the club they have now, especially once Carlos Correa rejoins the lineup. They could also get bounced in the Division Series. The addition of a starting pitcher has clearly grown in need. Who is selling and what prices are the questions. The Jays' Marcus Stroman? The Tigers' Matthew Boyd? The Marlins' Caleb Smith? The Mets are on the fringe of the Wild Card picture, would they auction Noah Syndergaard? The Giants have surged into the mass of mediocrity that is the NL Wild Card pic, that would seem to make them trading Madison Bumgarner less likely. It's not as if the Astros would be the lone bidder on any of these guys.

A big move

I was off last week when news surfaced of the Russell Westbrook to the Rockets/Chris Paul and draft picks to the Thunder blockbuster trade. With it becoming official this week, some thoughts. Of course the Rockets wanted to move the three years, 124 million dollars left on Paul's contract. Of course there was concern over lingering problems between Harden and Paul. Maybe they'd have worked through it, maybe not. Of course taking on an additional year and 47 million more guaranteed dollars entails risk. But right now Westbrook is clearly the better and more durable player. It will be fascinating to see how well (or not well) Westbrook and James Harden mesh. What they did together seven years ago (with Kevin Durant too!) when Harden was a 22 year old sixth man isn't particularly relevant now. As he did with Harden and Paul, Mike D'Antoni will stagger their minutes to have at least one on the floor at nearly all times. Yeah, well, how are things handled down the stretch of close games? Harden is the man, Westbrook is a lousy spot up shooter. So is the ball in Westbrook's hands with Harden spotting up? Hard to see a steady diet of that. When off the ball both guys generally play as statues. That needs to change.

Westbrook may be the most explosive inch for inch player we've ever seen. Absolutely Jordanesque-not as a player, but for sheer stunning athleticism Westbrook has been amazing to watch. He brings a one man transition game ability the Rockets haven't had in ages. The consistent force with which he plays is captivating, even when he lapses into out of control Russell mode. There has to be concern that slippage in his game began last season during which Westbrook turned 30. However it was a season in which he was still third team All-NBA.

While averaging a triple-double for a third consecutive season, Westbrook's shooting numbers were poor. His free throw shooting tumbled to an awful 66 percent. His mid-range make percentage was not good. Westbrook is literally one of the worst three point shooters in the 40 season NBA history of the shot. His 30.8% career number is woeful, and in four of the last five seasons Westbrook hasn't hit 30%. The only player to take within a 1000 3s of the 2995 Westbrook has jacked up, and make a feebler percentage of them: Charles Barkley. Westbrook has played 11 NBA seasons and not hit the league average percentage from three in any of them. The notion that he's suddenly going to become a marksman for the Rockets is silly. The idea that Westbrook will get better look threes? Come on. Defenses have loved Westbrook shooting threes for years.

In the end, I like the trade for the NOW of it. The Rockets have a title contending upside, and an it could crater downside. They could wind up forfeiting lottery picks (top four protected) in 2024 when Harden is ready to turn 34 and Westbrook approaching 36, and again in 2026. While Daryl Morey has probably gotten too loose with discarding first round picks (they haven't made one since 2015), are you really going to be hung up on the risks of five and seven years from now?

Buzzer beaters

1. Kyle Tucker should not be untouchable for a pitcher the Astros would control beyond this season. 2. By the advanced WAR (win above replacement) metric the Rangers have the two best AL pitchers this season. The Astros face Mike Minor Friday night and Lance Lynn Sunday. Justin Verlander ranks third as he starts opposite Minor 3. Best sports Halls of Fame to visit: Bronze-hockey, Toronto Silver-pro football, Canton Gold-baseball, Cooperstown


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