Not Buzzworthy? Rockets Winning Games, but Not Hearts and Minds

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Tuesday morning, a friend of mine asked a question on Facebook: "Which championship do you most want to see next in Houston, football, basketball or baseball?" Not surprisingly, for most the answer was simple: football.

The Houston Rockets are a young, dynamic, offensive-minded team. They have one of the best scoring guards in the NBA who will be playing the All-Star game held right here in Houston in a couple weeks. They organization has literally shuffled the entire deck, going young and making gutsy moves. They are playing well above expectations and may even challenge for a playoff spot.

Yet, when you turn on sports radio, a month removed from the last time the Texans set foot on a field and were crushed by the Patriots, the only discussion is about Matt Schaub, Gary Kubiak, the draft (still two months away) and free agency (just under a month away). This is to be expected from the Astros, a team that could lose more than 100 games again this year, but the Rockets are everything fans want, everything fans have been clamoring for on message boards and on sports radio for years.

So, why can't the Rockets get any buzz? The answer is fairly simple.

Only 40 percent of the city can watch them on TV.

With Comcast SportsNet Houston still not available on DirecTV, Dish Network and U-Verse, and virtually no end in sight to the standoff, it is deflating fans during a season that should be an exciting precursor to a bright future. Instead it is a frustrating struggle to get interested.

The reality is when only 40 percent of the general population has access to games on TV, it may as well be 0 percent because unless all your friends have Comcast, the conversations about the Rockets will be decidedly one-sided.

Even the All-Star game feels like it has lost a bit of its luster here in Houston. Now, that may change when the NBA, TNT and more hip-hop artists than you knew existed descend on the city Valentine's Day, but for now, no one seems to care.

I have to wonder if the Rockets made a big trade deadline move -- it appears unlikely they will at this point -- if anyone would notice...or care. Even the Astros trade for minor league prospects on Monday seemed to move the needles more than the Rockets have the entire season. I've read people saying how they are excited the Astros are going young, but whenever I heard the discussion about the Rockets, it is frustration with Jeremy Lin or concerns over the lack of a second superstar to pair with James Harden. Sure, they have struggled for over a decade in terms of taking the next step in the playoffs, but it finally appears fans got what they want with this young team and there still isn't the kind of love or excitement for the team you might expect.

It all comes back to being able to connect with the team and that is virtually impossible if you can't see them play.

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