Disclaimer: I did this two years ago, and I really enjoyed it. Not sure if you guys did, but I'm doing it again. I mean no disrespect to Bill Simmons other than to have a playful laugh at his expense. And this year I made far fewer jabs than last time. Please don't sue me.
As always, these are real (read: fake) questions from real (read: still fake) readers.
Q: First off, when is the next Birdmester video coming out? I haven't jerked off to Larry Bird's name in almost a day! I need another idea. WHO SAYS NO???
-Bill S, Los Angeles (but always Baw-stun)
PG: I hear you buddy. Maybe you should try a Robert Parrish Podcast. He was #00 so you would be perpetually loving your Celtics without ever stopping. Sure your wife and kids might disapprove, but if you don't like Robert Parrish, then we don't like you. I mean, anytime you can mention a Celtics legend even when the situation doesn't call for it, you have to do it. Right Jalen?
Jalen: KEEP GETTING DEM CHECKS!
PG: That's not what we're talking about.
Jalen: GIVE THE PEOPLE...what they want!!!
PG Moving on...
Q: I know you guys think Jeremy Lin is playing poorly, but he does things off the court that are important. I don't see him with gun charges like Raymond Felton. Plus, he's my favorite player so I will defend him irrationally as if my life depended on it!
-LOF4LYFE, Palo Alto a.k.a Taiwan (same thing, apparently)
PG: We've gotten to the point where people are saying "At least he isn't Raymond Felton!" Like that's some kind of achievement. I'm not Raymond Felton either. Do I get $15 million next year too?
Chris Rock has a standup routine where he bashes individuals of color for trying to take credit for doing things they are supposed to do. Like "I take care of my kids" and "I haven't been to jail." You're supposed to take care of your kids. You're not supposed to go to jail. Taking credit for not having gun charges isn't something to be proud of. It should be a given.
No one is saying Jeremy Lin is a bad person because he's in a slump. But frankly, as long as they aren't doing Raymond Felton-y things off the court, I couldn't care less what's going on. But Jeremy Lin isn't doing his job. Right now, Jeremy Lin is performing at 50% of his ability (and that's being generous). If I performed 50% at school, I would fail. If you performed 50% at your job, your boss would fire you.
In the six games since the All-Star Break, Lin is shooting 28%. He's averaging 3 turnovers a game. But the real issue is that he looks scared. He has no confidence and it looks like even he can't wait for Beverley to come back into the game.
He's had slumps before, and he'll have more. I would rather him slump now than later in the season, but the Rockets need him now, too.
And you keep on doing your LOF thing, buddy. When in doubt, refer to this:
Q: Okay, what's the deal with your Twitter avatar? Sorry, I have bronchitis again.
-Mike K, Houston
PG: Greg Oden on the cover of ESPN The Magazine has been my Twitter avatar since I first joined six years ago. But since I started writing previews for TDS, Greg Oden has never been on the opposing team so I've never been able to explain it.
It started when I first saw this commercial:
Greg Oden - ESPN Commercial (via Ryan Knight)
I laughed so hard. Here was a young soon-to-be superstar making fun of his demeanor. I love self-deprecating humor. Who doesn't? And the "I'd like to win 15 championships quote?" Hilarious. Obviously done in jest, but it rings bittersweet now.
We'll never know what Greg Oden could have become. He was so celebrated out of high school. He played his one year at Ohio State with a broken hand and still led the Buckeyes to the title game. And revisionist history is fun now, but don't you dare say that you knew Durant would be a superstar and Oden wouldn't. No one was saying that heading into the draft. Everyone after the draft claimed Portland had made the smart move, and they were right. As Rockets fans have learned, you always take the sure-thing big man over the sure-thing wing player. Always.
It's good to see Oden in the league and contributing to the Miami Heat. He's averaging 9 minutes per game and has played himself into decent game shape to give the Heat valuable minutes in the playoffs if needed against Roy Hibbert.
This mailbag is getting too serious. Let's go to something fun.
Q: How awesome is this gif?
PG: It really is a ton of fun. Keep spinning Tigger. And keep looking on with that dumbstruck expression, Pooh.
I could watch this forever.
Q: Duh-white How-ahd made a big mistake choosing the RAH-kets over the Lakers. He didn't want the presh-uh of playing with Kuh-whoa-bee Buh-RYE-ant. My sources say-
-Chris B, Los Angeles
PG: Just shut up please. Forever.
I hate to do the "I told you so" dance, but I have to. I said over and over again during the offseason that the Rockets were going to get a different Dwight Howard than what the media was portraying. First off, Howard knew he would be scrutinized here if he caused problems, so he would be on his best behavior.
But more importantly, Dwight chose where he wanted to be when he picked Houston. He made that choice because he thought he would be happiest here, and it's hard to argue with that. He's a different player than he was last season. He looks more focused and more concerned with team success.
I understand the bitterness from Lakers fans, but if you think even this rejuvenated Dwight would play well with Kobe you're kidding yourself. No superstar will be successful if Kobe Bryant insists on putting up 30 shots per night. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh sacrificed part of their games to accommodate each other. The Spurs' Big Three has proven that playing within your ability means that the total can be greater than the sum of the parts. The Thunder struggle with this, none more so than Russell Westbrook. The Pacers don't force players to do more than they can, and when they do it's usually Lance Stephenson and the Pacers lose.
Kobe is never going to understand that concept. He wants others to conform to his game, rather than synergistically combining with them. You could put Kevin Love and Chris Paul on that team, and if Kobe is still running the show then I still don't see them winning a title. If he were to cede control to Paul, then that team could be unstoppable with a could of shooters and a decent center. But Kobe won't give anyone control, so the Lakers will only be a destination for the Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henrys of the world that just want to stay in the league.
Q: Is "Howard Sucks" the best chant ever for all the wrong reasons?
-Armin K, Amarillo
PG: Okay, I wrote that one myself.
There aren't great chants anymore. Maybe there never were any. Now it's about intolerable sounds like the tomahawk chop chant ("oooooooo-oh-ooooooooooo-oh-oooooooooooo") or it's something really generic like S-E-C! S-E-C! It's pretty boring.
Utah State's "Winning Team-Losing Team" chant is straight-up awesome, but it's one of a kind.
"Beat LA" has basically been adopted nationwide so it doesn't really count.
My favorite growing up was from the WWF/E. Whenever Kurt Angle came to the ring, his music perfectly allowed the crowd to chant "YOU SUCK!" in tune with the music. Eventually, Angle grew to love the chant too and even sang along with it when he returned from injury.
The "Howard Sucks" chant works because it's pointed directly at one person. It's an entire arena demonstrating the vitriol they feel towards someone who spurned them. It's bitter and caustic and it's awesome. I hope it picks up, and I hope the Rockets keep turning it around whenever they win in LA.
And as always, God hates Cleveland. I don't care if it doesn't fit here. It's a requirement in my contract to say this in every article I write.
Q: Who cares about basketball? Who are the Texans going to pick with the first pick in the NFL Draft?
-John M, Actor
PG: We get it Mr. McClain. You were in a couple of movies as an extra and now you think you know Hollywood. Don't be so in-your-face about it. Please.
I hate that Texas is a football state.
Don't get me wrong. I love football. I'm a Texans fan and I want them to succeed. I hope they make a smart pick.
But I HATE that football overtakes everything in this state. I'm a basketball fan first and now that the Rockets are an elite team (they are) I expected the rest of Houston to take notice.
The Rockets are nothing compared to the Texans, and that's fine most of the year. But there's no football right now. Baseball is thankfully a ways away, though it will last 11 months just like it always does. Why can't we talk about the only good team in Houston right now? Why do we have to focus on two teams that were literally the worst team the NFL and MLB? They're terrible! Yet the Texans will milk the first pick coverage and sell out their seats while Houstonians will stay home instead of going to the Toyota Center and then they will complain about Comcast (we're not going there).
We've talked about it so much it's getting boring. Houston fans are spoiled when it comes to the Rockets despite the fact that there's no reason for it. It's championship or bust when it comes to the Rockets. When they lose, it's the end of the world until the next game. When the Texans made the playoffs the first time and won a game, people were pretty pleased. When this new era of the Rockets made the playoffs, there was disappointment when they didn't advance against OKC. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
The expectations have already been raised from last year, and now the goal is the Western Conference Finals, which is a tough ask. The top of the West is stacked again, and if the Rockets happen to run into the Clippers in the first round and lose in 7 games, that would be a disappointment. But what if they beat the Clippers then lose to OKC in 7 in Round 2? That's still a disappointment, even if the odds say the Rockets probably wouldn't even get out of the first round in that scenario.
So rejoice! Appreciate the team you have, because it's better than the team you deserve, Houston.
Q: Do we get to a point where we start rooting for the Lakers and Jazz to win so they hurt their lottery chances?
-Xiane, Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest
PG: We haven't gotten there already?
Obviously, whenever Utah or LA plays a good team, I want them to win in order to help the Rockets. But now even when they play bad teams, I'm "rooting" for them. I know this is bad, but I don't want to trade one bad year of Jazz basketball for 10 years of Jabari Parker on the Jazz. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
There are certain teams that I wouldn't mind winning the lottery. Mainly, any team in the East besides Boston. I know most of them would screw it up. In the West, I wouldn't mind if Sacramento or Denver grabbed the top pick, because I'm not sure they would make great decisions either.
But we'll get to that later when I do my annual "If the lottery is rigged, who wins it?" preview later this season.
Yes, it's the Lakers. Duh. Silver is so gonna rig it to make sure they win. Or he might help the Knicks win it even without a pick. Either way, it promises to be a fun lottery. We'll talk about it, I promise.
Q: Are you gonna do matchups eventually plz?
-Neik K and Rod K, Houston
PG: My brothers always want the matchups. So here they are, in four words.
Dwight Howard vs. Chris Bosh: Dwight came for this. Rockets
Rockets Bench vs. Heat Bench: Birdman, Beasley, Allen, Cole. Heat
Q: You know if this forces me to fire you, we'll have to bring Tom out of retirement to replace you?
Q: Why are you watching the Rockets when you should be watching True Detective?
-Daniel M, Houston
PG: It's about that time.
Q: I've still got Bucks in six.
-Brandon J, Detroit
PG: Almost there.
Q: Just how much does Kevin McHale's racism play into Jordan Hamilton producing in the lineup rather than playing Jeremy Lin 45 minutes a game? I mean, does McHale hate the idea of winning by 638 points a game? The shit?
-Brandon D, Virginia
PG: Yep, these are my readers.
Tip-off is at 7pm CST.