In explaining my reasoning for owning a blog, I was asked the simplest, yet most sneakily complex question that has been posed to me in quite some time.
So, why are you a Rockets fan?
It all began during the most improbable of times: post-championships and pre-Yao Ming. Yep, I'm one of those people who doesn't have a built-in reason for liking my team.
1. The Spaceman Stripes and everything else ridiculous and uncalled for in between
Everyone hates the Spaceman Stripes except for me, which is not in any way my fault. They entangled themselves with my childhood, much like stupid kids movies do. It's a matter of generational positioning. Anyone my age with a spark for sports will love D2: The Mighty Ducks, no matter how clichéd or improbable the entire premise is (I'm betraying my conscience in typing that), and I'm sure all of you old folks can point to similar examples for your specific age group. The stripes were of the same mold.
At the time, the introduction of the stripes was a brilliant marketing campaign by the Rockets: after winning two championships, a downturn was inevitable. Thus, the switch to the stripes would serve to attract a new audience of bored, unsociable eight year-olds such as myself with nothing else to do but watch basketball. To convince us that the Rockets were "cool", the front office stuck a picture of a shark-like rocket with teeth on the front of the jersey and surrounded it with falling stripes that would certainly come off as "popular." The point wasn't to watch basketball - it was to stare at those hip jerseys. You have no idea how appealing it was, as a kid, to watch sky rockets in flight challenge snowy mountain ranges to a game of basketball.
Sure enough, they had me sold. I paid sixty bucks for a jersey and a pair of shorts. Ironically, the name on the back belonged to Scottie Pippen, who became my favorite Rocket on the 1999 team. Now, you may all stop taking me seriously, punch your computer screen in anger, and leave amidst a feeling of betrayal.
Eventually, I realized that I could actually attend a Rockets game in the glorious Compaq Center. My first game made for quite an experience, as I was best friends with former Rockets owner Charlie Thomas's grandson. We had third row seats, which made me eligible to dance to a random Jock Jams tune at halftime, an old tradition at Compaq. In stepping onto the hardwood, doing a terribly embarrassing 90's dance with the beautiful power dancers, and looking up into the half-empty stadium, I found something I liked.
There are so many players, objects, and anthems I that I can use to sum up to the blur that was my experience with the Spaceman Stripes teams. They include:
1. Antoine Carr's goofy goggles, as a member of both the Jazz and the Rockets.
2. A Hakeem Olajuwon bobble-head doll.
3. Five-dollar team programs featuring over-the-top action photos of Brent Price, Kevin Willis, and Roderick Rhodes.
5. Our old theme song, a musical gem that has been unfairly forgotten.
6. Clyde Drexler's and Olajuwon's bright red elbow and knee pads.
7. Personal pan Pizza Hut pizzas.
8. Matt Maloney.
9. Greg Gumble's high-pitched "GYAH!" after Eddie Johnson's famous game-winner.
10. Richard Justice's ineptitude at basketball writing (I'm only half-joking).
On top of all of this, in a totally unrelated-to-the-Rockets story, there was Space Jam, which increased my appreciation of basketball monumentally. In my defense, I've always thought Bill Murray was the funniest character, even above Bugs Bunny. And I'm damn proud to say so.