2015-2016 Houston Rockets: Bye, Felicia
Dear Rockets: If you don't care, I don't care. If you want to get swept, knock yourself out.
I'm done with the Houston Rockets.
No, I'm not done with the franchise forever, and I'm sure, after several long months to ponder just where it all went wrong this season, I'll probably be back, but with this particular group — this dysfunctional, broken, can't-be-bothered-to-show-up group — for now, at least, I am done.
And make no mistake, Rockets, this is not an "It's not you, it's me" breakup. This is entirely, one billion percent YOU, NOT ME.
I feel confident in saying, "When it comes to defending you, Rockets, I've done my part," which is the ultimate irony because I don't think you've defended a damn thing since Game 7 of the Clippers series last postseason. Hell, I was part of the small minority in Red Nation who, during the last week of the regular season, actually WANTED you to make the playoffs instead of tanking out of the postseason and retaining the first-round pick you conditionally stapled to Joey Dorsey's face in the Ty Lawson deal!
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I wanted you to make the playoffs because I like playoff basketball, I like competition, the goal of sports is to win and hell, maybe there's that 1 percent chance that you guys reach down for something deep in your sports courage tank and shock the world. I really felt like this, despite being outnumbered on Twitter and on my radio show by people who felt the need to over-explain to me the intrinsic franchise-changing value of a 2.6 percent chance at a top three pick, like I was some sort of basketball first grader.
That was fun.
Then Game 1 hit, and you were down by double digits before my first-quarter pizza rolls (yum!) were done cooking, and by halftime, Twitter collectively was telling me what a dumbass I was for wanting you in the playoffs instead of wanting to experience the thrill of picking 13th in the draft! It's hard for me to argue my side of that when James Harden has four points and four fouls at halftime, and Corey Brewer is playing like he dipped into Johnny Manziel's magic mushroom bag. Thanks for nothing, guys.
So the Warriors went on to beat you by 26 in Game 1, spending a casual Saturday afternoon batting you around like a cat bats around a ball of yarn. (Yes, you are a ball of goddamn yarn, Rockets!) But then, somewhat miraculously, a gift was granted by the basketball gods! Steph Curry — reigning MVP, best player on the planet, possible alien — was announced out for Game 2 with an ankle injury. If ever there were a time to rise up, take what you were gifted and make a series out of it, Monday night was that time, fellas!
Instead? More of the same. More Harden massaging the ball until the 23.7-second mark on the 24-second shot clock, more Dwight sulking because nobody's feeding him the ball in the low post (Hey, Dwight, I'm with you...it would be amazing to watch you set the record for turnovers in a game.), more listless chasing of defensive rebounds, more Corey Brewer, more Trevor Ariza, more Josh Smith...I don't need to go through the "12 Days of Christmas" exercise of attaching a detrimental verb to each of these guys. If you've been watching the Rockets, you know that I can merely state their names and that's enough to induce the requisite vomit.
Hell, other than Patrick Beverley (whom I would clone a million times and then challenge the world to a street fight), none of you even seem to care that the Warriors are treating this series like a glorified practice, a controlled scrimmage, the NBA equivalent of a college spring game.
So guess what? If you don't care, I don't care. If you want to get swept, knock yourselves out.
It's equal parts hilarious and pathetic, guys, that by the time this series is over, your scorecard will read "Coaches Fired 2, Playoff Wins 0." Poor J.B. Bickerstaff. I say that not only because he was handed a roster whose collective give-a-damn-o-meter has been on "E" since October, but because he's completely ill-equipped for the job he was handed.
It's one thing to be unable to motivate a possible mix that cannot be motivated. It's entirely another to be playing Corey Brewer for more than 20 minutes in an NBA game, let alone starting him out of nowhere in Game 1. (Yeah, your team's game is predicated on three pointers, so hey! I got an idea! Let's start the guy who last made a three pointer during the Clinton Administration!)
When Bickerstaff was hired, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this flowery piece about a grinder finally getting a chance on the big stage, son of a coach, blah blah blah. It concluded like this:
Before J.B. called his wife, he had to call his father. He stood in a corridor of the Toyota Center and heard Bernie tell him that he had put the call on speaker, so his mother could hear all about it too. Bernie Bickerstaff, an old coach, with a history of interim assignments himself, pushed past the pleasantries and asked his kid a question.
“Do you have a plan?”
All his life, John Blair Bickerstaff had been groomed for this moment, this chance, and he told his father what he told the Rockets’ GM and owner, what he told James Harden and Dwight Howard.
“Yes, I do.”
What in the blue hell was this "plan" you speak of, J.B.? I need to know, because your offense looks like deleted scenes from a bad sex tape — totally disjointed, utterly aimless and painfully disorganized.
Rockets, you have two more games left in this series (let's just be honest), both of which I will watch because I want to maintain my standing as an exemplary CBS Radio employee (///turns to fourth wall...waves to bosses///), but make no mistake, for this season, we are done, you and me. You're impossible to root for, and I can't do the impossible.
So go ahead. Go ahead and finish this thing up appropriately, with James Harden flailing around for 30 barely efficient points to go with about seven of the laziest turnovers you'll ever see, with Trevor Ariza dribbling around the perimeter like he just learned how to use his left hand, with Dwight Howard seeking Olajuwon-level touches even though he has Ostertag-level touch, and with the rest of the merry band of fools chucking up three pointers like they're...well, like they're the Golden State Warriors or something.
As Ellis Redding would say, go on and stamp your little card, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because frankly, I don't give a shit.
Not anymore. Not this year. Not till it's fixed.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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