It's more than four hours until the players are supposed to appear but the line to meet them already stretches around the block. It's painfully obvious that not everyone will get their crap signed and pictures taken but right now everyone is hopeful. When it comes to the Rockets everyone is ALWAYS hopeful.
There's a cute chick in obscenely short shorts, blonde streaks in her hair and a custom low cut shirt that reads "Linderella." It's a pun so crafty I get mad that I didn't come up with it. She skipped all her classes to show up, she says thinks she had a test today but that doesn't matter. He's gonna be here. He's really gonna be here. It'll be worth it!
Then an extremely tall fella with perfect stubble and ocean-deep colored eyes is escorted towards the table, and next to him is Jeremy Lin. At that moment the 1,500 plus people that had been waiting for something like four or five hours erupt into a frenzy for Chandler Parsons and Lin.
These two have been the talk of the town in the Rio Grande Valley through the first five days of camp and its easy to see why. Lin is "Lin" these days, and he's carried himself on that that streak of insane play for the last eight months but pretty soon he'll have to answer his fans and himself whether or not Linsanity is lightning in a bottle or the dawn of a superstar.
But superstar isn’t a word that comes to mind when you look at Lin. At Rockets camp I was talking with some sort of Media Liaison Suit trying to work out when the team would be available. The Suit tells me what a nice guy Lin is but he's still so uncomfortable talking with the press. He's got no charisma. We look over to the court and there's the kid, sitting off to the side fiddling with his shoe laces like some nervous freshman. The Suit may have a point.
When Yao Ming walks into a room he's "Yao Ming" when Kobe walks into a room he strides along every bit the five time NBA champion that he is. Lin looks like the boy you'd coerce into doing your homework.
If Lin is the kid in high school that gets excited over his new graphing calculator, then Parsons is definitely the cool jock that slept with your girlfriend even though he's already banging some slutty college freshman chick with a tongue ring.
There's a reason its Parsons's visage that graces the billboards of Houston freeways. There's a reason we're looking to Parsons to anchor this young roster even though he's a new guy himself. The guy is a natural leader.
Everyone in line had waited for hours to meet the face of Linsanity but it was Parsons that was working the crowd, making people laugh, offering funny faces and accommodating strange autograph requests. Parsons makes you want to follow him. He makes you feel as if all is fine just because he's around. And he's just so handsome.
We all know that this is a young roster. And we've had no real "soul" since Battier and Yao were the leaders of this team. The lack of an established veteran creates a void. An empty seat at the head of the table. In the early going of this season Parsons has seemly pulled up the chair, demanded a cask of the finest ale and asked what was for dinner.
I suspect that before long, whether Lin is for real or not, it'll be Parsons ahead of the fray. Talking about demeanor and charisma may be played out. It is, after all, just basketball. But demeanor and charisma are everything in basketball. No other team sport relies so much on a singular part to make the entire machine work. Isn't that what the chase for Dwight was all about?
However, the more I learn about this roster the more I'm convinced that we're set. You can call me insane, but I think we have the guys to change the script this season. The Kool Aid I'm drinking comes in three different flavors, by the way: Delusion, Grandiosity and Dementia. And if you're reading this blog and feel about the Rockets the same way I do, you may as well have a sip because we're gonna be here a while.