There are a few things we Rockets fans can agree on:
Hakeem is the greatest center of his generation;
the Utah Jazz suck;
Rudy T needs to be elected to the HOF this year;
Robert Horry is the greatest role player of all time and should never have been traded for Barkley;
the 1998/99 NBA never happened. You hear me? It never happened.
(Never happened I tell ya!!!)
Now, with that out of the way, why is that relevant to anything taking place today? Follow the yellow brick road to find the answer. Also known as "the Jump".
With the backstory about the 1998/99 season out of the way, you can probably see where I am going with this.
I am extremely conflicted on how to feel about this truncated 66 game NBA season. I mean, I guess it's kind of neat that I'll have something to do on Christmas Day other than fret about Jake Delhomme throwing playoff INTs for the Texans. But... Yao Ming still is not walking through that door. The Rockets will have about one week to sign draft picks and free agents and make any necessary trades. And while Daryl Morey would rightly be insulted by merely being labeled "awesome" that is quite the tough task for a GM that needs to find a legitimate starting center and some size on the bench for a team that has been rather mediocre the last few years.
Also, are we really going through with the Kevin McHale experience? That was not a joke? Ummm, interesting. Okay. I really cannot wrap my head around any of this. It is all simply too bizarre.
The only thing that does make sense is that the NBA players' association caved yet again.
Who did not see that coming?
Also, I'm must admit that I was more than willing to forego this season in exchange for the players and owners to get together and fix the system. This is not the NFL. The NBA is not flush with cash. Without the services of Michael Jordan as a player, the league is no longer printing money from TV and other contracts. Even the crazy awesome Maloof brothers are broke as shit and almost had to sell the team. Yet the NBA continues to have the highest average player salary among any professional sports league in the world. (I use the term "professional" because no one out-spends NCAA football boosters!). That is simply not a feasible business model going forward. No way should Chuck Hayes have any right to demand $3M+ a year. And yet someone will give it to him within the next two weeks. Just watch.
Until everyone wises up and realizes the NBA needs to cut four teams (Sacramento, Toronto, Indiana and Charlotte), we can just mark our calendars for the next lockout/strike in 2018. It's coming.
Back to the point though. Whatever happens this year is going to be bittersweet if the Rockets do well. Because it will not really count. When Morey catches Orlando off guard and swings a trade for Dwight Howard... I will not feel right bragging about our multiple championship rings until at least 2013. Just taking a look at the list of available free agents makes me nervous. There ain't much out there. At least no one that is worth the money they will receive from the owners (not even with the new cap rules in place. The owners cannot help themselves.)
The Rockets might make the playoffs this year.
They might also be the NBA's Astros.
I really have no idea what to expect from the team this year. Granted, I am hyper excited to see what Patrick Patterson can do in Year 2. I'm excited to see if Kevin Martin can finally make an All Star team -- oh, wait, will there even be an All-Star game this year?? I'm not at all excited to accept that we will never see Yao suit up for the good guys again. That's gonna be tough to handle. I refuse to accept it right now. I'm also not exactly that excited to see what that rookie from Kansas does. (Because he kinda sucks, you see.) I am VERY excited to see what Donatas Motiejunas is able to do. I think he could be quite good. I also think we won't see him play at an NBA level for another couple of years while he learns the NBA game.
Basically, with all this lockout mess and new salary cap world....... I am terrified that the Rockets trade Luis Scola. Because I think it is about to happen. I just do not want to accept it. Just like I refuse to accept that the Rockets ever traded for Scottie Pippen. It did not happen. You hear me?!?! IT NEVER HAPPENED.
Just like the results of this upcoming season. A year from now I'll remind you all it never happened.