So many of these previews seem to be turning into "How can AK relate this game to his life?" Today is no different, and we're going to take a magical tour through a part of my childhood. Hold on, it's about to get
In ninth grade, I was starting at a small yet well-regarded private school inside the loop. My first class was English, and I was ready to dominate. After all, my grammar and spelling were pretty good and I had always done well in that class.
I didn't really get what I expected. Most of that stemmed from my teacher.
Mr. Nathan was...odd. Most English teachers wanted to throw grammar rules and vocabulary at you. They wanted to show you that the sentence about the curtains being blue (NSFW) truly reflected the downtrodden spirits of the narrator and was actually a larger metaphor for the internal struggle of man against both himself and society.
Firstly, Mr. Nathan wasn't like that. He wanted authors to get to the point, too. He hated the word "very" and took points off for its usage. He could explain things in simple ways and could turn Romeo and Juliet into a comedy (at least the first act). He taught me that the real reason for education wasn't necessarily to be successful in life; it's to get the jokes.
The real difference was that Mr. Nathan was passionate about so many things. He loved music, so naturally he played music as students filed in from their previous class. His classroom walls draped with autographed pictures of athletes and celebrities. He loved Bill Engvall's "Here's Your Sign" bit and dedicated a portion of his wall (already teeming with framed photographs, mind you) to a "Wall of Stupid" for dumb grammar and spelling mistakes. He was enamored with baseball, so he compiled a book of baseball quotes.
Mr. Nathan influenced my writing greatly. Without him, I'm not here today writing about a game when all you want to read about is Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin trade rumors. He's why I try to write about non-basketball things every once in awhile to keep myself interested. On the one hand, you probably hate that I'm not only writing about the Rockets (we'll get to them, I promise). On the other hand, it keeps me refreshed and keeps every preview from turning into "Yeah, we should win this game probably."
However, the one thing I'll never forget from Mr. Nathan is the definition of irony. We have these preconceptions of what the term means. Is it a situation that has some subtle joke? Or is it a hammer that breaks the spirit of an unsuspecting sap? You could ask Alanis Morissette, but the only situation from that song that qualifies as ironic is the man who was afraid to fly and then died when he finally took a flight.
There's a difference between something being an unfortunate situation and being ironic.
Here comes the segue!
There is some irony at play tonight when the Rockets take on the Bulls. At least, that's how Omer Asik will feel. A year-and-a-half ago, he left the Chicago Bulls for greener pastures in Houston. He would finally get a chance to get out of the shadow of top 5 center and could show off his own skills. In two games against the Bulls last year, he did just that and prompted some hilarious reaction posts from the leader in sports blogging.
Rockets vs Bulls | Lin + Team Highlights (11/21/2012) (via Blaiyan)
Omer Asik highlights vs Chicago Bulls - 20 pts, 18 reb (via danacdgo)
Asik was hailed as the franchise center in Houston. Finally, his offensive deficiencies weren't being dissected. Rather, his defense and youth were being celebrated! His departure from the Bulls may have been a death, but his his rise with the Rockets was downright phoenix-like.
Now, his last night as a Rocket will likely come against his previous team. He left one for the other to get a chance to play. Tonight, the situation doesn't come full circle but instead continues down a chain that hopefully leads to future success.
The situation isn't ironic in general. But to Omer Asik, that's the word of the day. And if he needs to know why, I can refer him to an English teacher at St. John's School who would be happy to enlighten him.
Programming note: Patrick Harrel, another SJS alum, will be writing the preview for Friday's game against the Pacers in between the 500 posts he's putting up about the pre-deadline. The man is a machine.
Tip off is at 8:30pm CST on ESPN.
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Marquis Teague
Kirk Hinrich missed the last game for the Bulls with a back injury. However, he did fly with the team to Houston so we'll see if he plays. Otherwise, expect Teague to start with D.J. Augustin getting a lot of time here too.
Some games, Patrick Beverley looks like a world-beater. Some games, he looks hopelessly average.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Jimmy Butler
I assume that James Harden will play tonight, but we won't know for sure until we get closer to tip-off.
Xiane said in the last game thread that the Rockets had passed their total missed games by starters from last year already. We're 25 games in, and we've lost more games from important guys than all of last year combined.
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Luol Deng
With Derrick Rose out for the season, Thibs is depending more and more on his veterans. That means that Deng is averaging 44 minutes a contest in December. Thibs running players into the ground isn't new, but it is fascinating in that it's hurt Deng's stock for this summer when he becomes a free agent.
Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Carlos Boozer
I don't even care. I'll never give that other guy an advantage.
I hate the Jazz.
Center: Dwight Howard vs. Joakim Noah
Here we have the two guys who have kept Omer Asik on the bench. There's nothing to be ashamed of in backing up these two All-Stars, but Asik deserves his time in the sun.
On a side note from the Asik obituary, if Dwight Howard never goaltends again I will die a happy man. Just let it go big fella. Box out and grab the rebound.
Rockets: Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, Greg Smith
Bulls: Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, D.J. Augustin
Advantage: Bulls since the Rockets bench hasn't played well lately
Prediction: Rockets win 101-85.
Bulls vs Rockets coverage