B Rant: Rockets vs. Warriors Day 1

by Brantly Martin

19 May 2015

B = me 

Rant = declaim violently and with little sense; rave

That's my trophy.
-Hakeem Olajuwon

May 19th, Game 1

Just when I was about to dip into another extended sports hibernation—somewhere between Vladimir Putin's “time off” from running Russia and the time it's been since the Knicks made it past the 2nd round—this whole Rockets thing happened. And, well … fuck it! I've partaken in much more nefarious two week benders. What's a little “this matters” role playing to get the juices flowing. And like any good ______ I'm thinking: How can I get dem der juices flowing even more? Okay … what's the line—

(Chill, B.)

Sticking with the 20 years on thing and in full comprehension that I am human—and 1.3 percent Neanderthal according to that National Geographic test (which, as far as I'm concerned, fully excuses my behavior 1.3 percent of the time)—and prone to pattern recognition as much as the next beneficiary of evolution—which can be a real downer, that whole being aware of the pattern recognition taking place at all times, one almost has to “loop” the pattern recognition track into a double negative to regain the magic of a moment … such as watching an awful movie at that theater in Piazza del Popolo only because you're living in Rome and much of the action is taking place around Piazza del Popolo so you say fuck it! and sit through Tom Hanks following clues that semi-culminates in him declaring via Italian voiceover “Guarda! Un pentagramma!” (“Look! A pentagram!”) which takes you right out of the fantasy pattern recognition loop and makes you sefuckingverely wonder about your sanity every time you see your pentagram. Know what I mean? 

So, with a nod to cheese-balls dubbed in Italian and that one Indian dude who performs non-magic (at all!) magic tricks in Campo de’ Fiori and Trastevere while screaming GUARDA in a very pedophiliac manner, let's call this look at the similarities between the Rockets heading into San Antonio for the Western Conference Finals 20 years ago and heading into Golden State tonight … 

Guarda 20/20

1995 Rockets came back from a 3 games to 1 hole to beat the Phoenix Suns.
2015 Rockets came back from a 3 games to 1 hole to beat the Los Angeles Clippers.

1995 NBA MVP was San Antonio Spur David Robinson.
2015 NBA MVP is Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry.

1995 Rockets were 1 and 5 vs. the Spurs in the regular season.
2015 Rockets were 0 and 4 vs. the Warriors in the regular season.

So … let the neuron games begins. 

The '95 Rockets won the first two games in San Antonio then lost the next two in Houston then won the next two to close out the series. Game 2 in San Antonio is one of the all-time I'm just taking shit over individual performances in the … history of the league! (Can one hyperbolize the truth?) David Robinson received the MVP trophy before game 2 and Hakeem Olajuwon proceeded to precede the proliferation of the term “sonning” by … sonning The Admiral in a way that I've never seen since. Just ask Robert Horry. I suppose what I'm rambling up to is: Do these Rockets have a chance at duplicating what that '95 team did—steal two games on the road to start the series? I'd make those odds about the same as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush holding a joint press conference to declare: We've thought about it … and we both agree that it's not in the best interest of the United States of America for there to be a Clinton-Bush election in 2016. Neither of us will be running for President. We want to make way for The New.

I'll put the odds of the Rockets grabbing one of the first two games at about the same odds of Walt “Clyde” Frazier going one quarter without saying “percolating,” or CNN reporting a story without overt bias: even money, at best. 

One problem for the Rockets is they already gave Curry the MVP award (and right on cue he had his worst game of the playoffs.) One plus is James Harden—the (by a long shot) runner up—really believes he should have won the award. Well Beard … here it is my man, time to be the people's champ like fellow Houstonian Paul Wall. Make it happen oh Lefty Step-Back One. I'm ready. 

* * * * 

The league would rather have Golden State in the Finals than the Rockets. (Bet on that son.) The league would also rather have Lebron in the Finals than Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Dominique Wilkens, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Jimmy Carter, Tony Gonzalez, Dale Murphy, James Brown, Ted Turner and all of Delta Airlines plus the cast of Gone With The Wind. I'm throwing that out there as a Conspiracy (Flaming) Red Alert.  The last times the alert was this serious was Laker vs. Blazers in 2000, Bush-Gore vs. Supreme Court in 2000, and Bloomberg vs. New York City Council in 2008. I don't know if Karl Rove is a basketball fan but I always figured he studied i metodi di David Stern prior to hand-holding George W. Bush to a victory over Ann Richards in 1994. Amici … watch the refs. Will they call ticky-tack crap on Howard early, send him to the bench and open up the lane for Curry and Thompson. As good as the Splash Brothers are there is a big difference between beating your man and having to choose between a mid-range shot, bounce pass in traffic, or kicking to the 3-point line (con Dwight) and beating your man and choosing between a layupish shot or kicking to the 3-point line (senza Dwight). The NBA might be the only sport where a non-biased observer can still conclude that “the refs decide every close game.” 

* * * * 

Funny that the NBA pushes that “Hero Ball” shit in the ads while real teams preach the exact opposite. And I don't mean that in an esoteric way. I mean that in a verbatim pullout quote way: “I feel like we tried to play a lot of hero ball tonight,” said Josh Smith after the game 1 loss vs. the Clips. Talk about inversion. 

Which has me thinking more about my Chris Paul/Blake Griffin—C+C/BlaKIA—riff from the other day. There was a time when one must actually win something to “be on the Wheaties box.” There was a time when one's company must actually make money for the owner/CEO (or whatever) to make money (much less hundreds of millions of dollars). There was a time when a non-native New Yorker's move to Manhattan was a disaster-riddled pick-up game of attrition and not a GPS-sorted Yellow Brick Road to skip along. There is nothing wrong with being a pop star, but don't get it twisted: if you're banking mad loot to rap about a liquor brand, shoes, insurance or affordable cars … you are not Miles Davis. Norman Mailer, when reflecting on the overall effect that being a celeb-intellectual in New York City (and enjoying being a celeb-intellectual in New York City) and having to take often unwanted non-fiction assignments to pay for the kids and ex-wives had on his fiction, implied it dulled the blade.

I'm not saying that C+C/BlaKIA don't have the right to make as much loot as possible—we know the owners are—and I'm sure all the players will make a lot more money after the next collective bargaining agreement. But … (without getting to woo-woo) … as Norman implied, there is energy at work here. Even if C+C/BlaKIA (or whoever) shoot all their commercials in the off-season and, ya know, use the extra loot as a tax write-off to donate to the charity they set up that their friend runs … they are still tossing that energy into the digiverse. If one can magically become a pop star then one can magically not become something else. Things move fast these days—it's as if Moore's Law discovered meth—and the cosmic reckoning of our new speed has yet to be rendered. 

* * * *

Game 1, Rockets vs. Warriors

If I'm a Vegas oddsmaker I'm making Golden State a huge favorite. Something like bet $100 on the Rockets to win $1000. If I was in Vegas I'd take the Rockets. 


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