The flood waters have rolled back and we’re approaching our cruising speed with no discernible threat on the horizon — and the Houston Rockets are in the Western Conference Finals. What a time to be alive!
It’s been roughly eight months since Hurricane Harvey and six months since the Astros won the World Series. Some time has passed since all of “the excitement,” and Houstonians are moving forward for the most part now with the forecast lookin’ good. I’m not saying we’ve forgotten about the unique pairing of a massive hurricane with the city’s first World Series. Instead, I’m worried maybe that we’ll be bored with this pending one.
The Houston Rockets won two NBA Championships back in the 1990’s, around the time when you were probably born. A gentleman by the name of Hakeem Olajuwon lead the Rockets to back-to-back championships, winning an MVP award along the way. Assuming this year’s MVP race finishes as expected, those ’90s Rockets’ teams have quite a few similarities with this current Rockets squad: MVP leading man, top shelf role players, trusty sidekick. It’s all there, and I AM EXCITED. Just as excited now as I was watching OJ flying down the highway in California. But I’m still concerned that all of this Houston Rockets splendor isn’t enough for people to come together and feel that citywide unity — like during the hurricane and the World Series. I’m afraid the Rockets have everything they need except for context.
When I ask people on the street (and I haven’t), “How pumped are you about the Houston Rockets making it to the Western Conference Finals?” they’ll be like, “Oh you know, that’s cool. I’m glad their hard work has paid off and I wish them the best. But no, I’m not like freaking out about it.” And then it becomes a thing…
Me: Pourquoi, asshole!?! You tell me pourquoi right now.
People on Street: Chill out, grandpa. The Rockets have won a championship already. In fact they’ve won two. Back 2 Back.
Me: How the hell would you know a thing like that?
People on Street: Wikipedia. So it’s no big deal if they win another one.
Me: They’re not the Boston Celtics, you gutter punk hippie.
People on Street: Whoa, Colonel Ruff Ryder. Don’t get mad at me, at us. There’s just no nuance surrounding this title run, bro.
Me: They had the best record in basketball. James Harden is a shoe-in for MVP. They have a unique and exciting style of play.
People on Street: Good for them.
Me: What more do you want?
People on Street: What’s in it for all of us? We need some context.
Me: *horn sound* Nailed it. That’s the buzz word. Here’s your prize.
People on Street: This is a napkin.
The Philly Fanatic once confessed to me (he did not), “Context is an essential part of the championship formula. It has nothing to do with the players on the team but everything to do with the fans in the stands.” After saying this, he putted the ball through the windmill, hole in one.
The context during the Astros’ World Series run was obvious and easy to invest in, even if you didn’t know how baseball worked. Major Metropolitan area smashed by hurricane. Citizens come together to rebuild city. Emotions are high. BANG. Home run.
The Houston Rockets, however, do not have a context so clear and present as that of the 2017 Houston Astros. At least that was the case before you started reading this article.
Consider some “timeline,” if you will… Houston’s most recent championship was last year’s World Series. Prior to that, “winning a championship” was whatever Beyoncé did that year. Prior to that, the Houston Rockets won two, back-to-back. Aaaand we’re done. That was quick. Houston does not historically boast consistent winning teams across all major sports. Last year was our FIRST World Series. First. The Yankees have so many World Series banners, they have their own Carbon 14 dating system.
The point is that winning another championship inside twenty years is unheard of ‘round these parts and would blow everyone’s minds if it came within 365 days. But what if it kept going? 2017 World Series Champs. 2018 NBA Champs. 2018 World Series Champs (yup). 2019 Super— backyard drag racing champs? This title run, dating back to that vile and sinister Harvey, is perhaps the greatest time in Houston sports history, which is a real thing that not only I believe in.
If you’re having trouble finding a reason to throw a watch party or go to a bar to cheer on the Rockets, if you need context… This is the greatest era in Houston Sports history. You should at least watch it unfold. And I bet if you do, you’ll get wrapped up in the excitement.
Some of you may not care, but sports does impact a city like Houston in many ways. But that satirical content I must save for my next piece following the Rockets triumph over the Golden State Warriors in 7 games. Cheers.