H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mark the Rocket Fan, Here's My Response

A 1,565 word count comment gets a response in the form of a post, not just a comment in return...

Let me begin by saying that I share your passion for the Rockets and welcome you to our site. Feedback from fans of Houston-area teams is why we set this site up. Don't be a stranger. That said, please don't be offended if I find your most recent comment to be inaccurate and, moreover, insane.

I'll be the first to admit that my prediction of a championship this season for the Rockets is 'optimistic'. I would suggest that by definition, any prediction of a championship for any team is inherently 'optimistic'. And since you agree that "player for player,the Rockets do have as much talent and depth as any other team coming into the season", I think it is fair to say that such a prediction is not so overly optimistic that it borderlines on ridiculous. It's not like I predicted that the Texans were going to go 9-7, Mark. (I did, but you did not call me out for that, so I won't mention it).

Your first criticism is that predicting an NBA champion is nearly impossible. Now that's ridiculous. I just did it, didn't I? That was easy. Next point. Seriously, though, of course it's not impossible. You said yourself that a layman could eliminate 40-50% of the teams in one fell swoop. I would say that there are about eight teams that have a legitimate shot at the title this year, and the Rockets are one of those eight teams. You may disagree, but predicting an NBA champion is not the equivalent of predicting tonight's winning Powerball numbers, Mark.

Your second criticism is that my prediction "is largely based on what you view as individuals with potential versus proven team quality". Most of the rhetoric that follows this statement is so vague that I cannot respond to it very directly, but I will say that I disagree entirely with your overall premise, which you summarize as "chaos rarely becomes organization overnight".

The Rockets were devastated by injuries last season, not by roster mismanagement. I agree that it has been an embarassingly rough stretch of late (Mo Taylor, Kelvin Cato, Matt Maloney, Boki Nachbar, Moochie Norris, Roderick Rhodes, Eddie Griffin, Moochie Norris again, etc.) However, those problems no longer exist, Mark. Last year's Rockets clearly had some noticeable roster problems, but if Yao and T-Mac had stayed relatively healthy, would the Rockets not have been at least as good as they were in 2004-2005 when they pushed the Mavs to a Game 7? I think that they would have. This offseason, I think that they added wonderful fits in Battier, Wells and Novak, such that if Yao and T-Mac stay healthy, they appear to have the pieces necessary to compete for a title this season. There are plenty of questions, a few of which I mentioned in my original post. But the same can be said for every team in the league heading into the season, and I don't think that the questions facing the Rockets this season are much more ominous than those facing the Heat, Mavs, Suns, etc.

Contrary to your comment, not all teams take five or six seasons to "realize a state of basketball Zen", as you put it. The Miami Heat won 25 games in 2003 and 42 games in 2004, before reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005 and winning the NBA Finals in 2006. I see no reason why the Rockets cannot make a similar jump this season. This is not a NASA shuttle rehabilitation project here, demanding months upon months of long hours and seamless work; it is a basketball team. Talent wins games, especially when it blends well together, and the Rockets have assembled a roster that I believe is tremendously talented and contains veteran players who have proven that they are willing to play their necessary roles for the benefit of the team. The playoffs don't begin next week; there are 82 games during which JVG & Co. can confront the task of blending this talented roster into a championship-worthy team. Maybe they'll be successful and maybe they won't, but I don't believe it's such an impossible task as you seem to think.

I appreciate the fact that the Spurs and Pistons have maintained a strong semblance of consistency throughout the past few years, though I hesitate to agree as much on the Pistons. They have been through three coaches in four seasons, and any roster with Rasheed Wallace on it is inherently somewhat volatile. The Spurs have built a fantastic franchise, without a doubt. They win big and win consistently, but their consistency has only resulted in two Finals appearances in seven years. Consistency itself does not guarantee a championship; likewise, major roster overhaul does not necssarily preclude a team from winning a championship. I would rather have Rafer/Bonzi/T-Mac/Battier/Yao than Parker/Bowen/Manu/Horry/Duncan going into this season, no matter how many less hours the aforementioned quintet has spent alone together, lost in each others eyes.

Moving on, I cannot help but highlight these nuggets of in-depth analysis from your comment:

"I am not convinced that Spanoulis even knows everybody on the team by name."

"Did Juwan really steal those sunglasses several months ago...?"

"I wouldn’t be surprised if Spanoulis walks up the wrong tunnel at the Toyota Center during halftime against Dallas on Nov. 4th."

"How many Red Bull energy drinks does that Lucas kid drink right before game time? I thought he was on PCP a few games ago, not that I know what it feels like to be on that stuff."

Jack Ramsay better have his resume updated because with poignant breakdowns like that, you're bound for the big time. If this is the extent of your basketball acumen, then it makes sense that you are so adamant that I am insane to predict a championship for the Rockets. There are clearly many important variables that I did not take into consideration. I am surprised that you did not also include Yao's worries about the Marvin Zindler finding slime in the ice machine at his restaurant and Steve Novak's pale skin and the resulting concerns about the steamy Houston sun. Both of those things fit nicely in your train of thought, I believe.

Mark, all kidding aside, I appreciate your passion for the Rockets, and I share your hope that this year's team lives up to their billing. I think that they will. Unfortunately, most of your 1500 words either blew right over my large head or rambled on about how teams cannot just rise up and win a championship overnight. Your pessimism is unfounded. You'll see when the Rockets become this year's version of the Miami Heat.


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