On the evening of May 2, John Granato and I had the opportunity to broadcast a "very special edition" of our show on 1560 The Game live from local restaurant and casino mogul Tilman Fertitta's palatial (Understatement Adjective of the Year, by the way) estate in River Oaks.
It was the annual "Gathering of Champions," which gave a couple hundred lucky donors the opportunity to mingle on a very personal level with several past, present and future Houston-area sports celebrities. The event was for a great cause, benefiting the Houston Children's Charity.
The roster of guests that appeared on our two-hour show was strong (and was actually a mere fraction of the sports celebs in attendance):
-- Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who was only a few hours removed from hearing the news that Junior Seau had died.
-- Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who went into great detail on the release of Jacoby Jones and the excitement of the upcoming season.
-- Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who talked about moving to Houston full time and his evolution into a leader of the Texans defense.
-- Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, who we could have talked to for about three more hours on any number of topics.
We also had a few of the Rockets players on (Samuel Dalembert, Chandler Parsons, Chase Budinger), and they all echoed the same sentiment -- they have no idea how the Rockets morphed from possible four seed in the West to a lottery team in a matter of hours in early April between a 4-0 road trip and a six-game losing streak. To a man, they were all anxious to get back on the court and remedy the late-season wrongs of April 2012.
In talking to all three, they all seemed equally restless to get into training camp and get after it, but to be truthful, you never know whether or not a player is pulling your leg. I mean, they all seem to say the right things, but how we do know they really want to get going again so very, very badly?
I can't even begin to express how many flavors of awesome these pictures are. There are probably a dozen different explanations for why Chase Budinger is wearing dark socks with an NBA logo with a suit at a ritzy charity event. Perhaps he was worried David Stern would be at the party and would fine him for not wearing them. Perhaps it was a laundry issue where his "business attire" sock supply was depleted, and he drafted the "best pair of dark socks" available. Perhaps he just didn't notice. (By the way, the Pendergast Casino Big Board has "just didn't notice" as a -300 favorite.)
But as a Rockets fan looking to cling to any shred of hope for the 2012-2013 season, I'd like to think that Budinger's adorning of his feet with these socks was a conscious choice, and a message to Red Nation that training camp can't get here soon enough.
Chase Budinger's mind is ready, his heart is ready and dammit, his feet are ready.
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Heart (and feet) of a champion, baby.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.