Imagining Hakeem Olajuwon on Houston’s Sideline

When asked if he’d be willing to teach his one and only friend the finer arts in constructing a believable lie, a proud George Costanza quickly dismissed the request: “Jerry, I can’t. It’s like saying to Pavorotti, ‘Teach me to sing like you.’”

Just because someone instructs a lesson to another person, it doesn’t necessarily mean things will click; physical abilities don’t permeate from one body to another by a magical touch, and some students simply don’t have the same mental capacity as their teacher. That’s life. But in the NBA, the players we’re discussing here are the best of the best—450 fate controlled lottery winners—and if they were to have someone whose sole job was to teach them the finer arts of, say, footwork in the low post, then we might be on to something.

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Chasing the Dragon

When I was younger, like most inarticulate, baby-faced sports aficionados, there seemed no limit to the number of downright awful basketball players that made up the majority of NBA rosters. Yeah, I knew about the Charles Barkleys and Gary Paytons and even Jeff Hornaceks, but for every one of those stars, 15 Chucky Browns proliferated the pro basketball landscape, hawking up ill-advised mid-range jumpers, being hopped over for rebounds and catching passes with their collective face. Eight-year-old me could not be convinced that the NBA did not have its fair share of miserable basketball players who just sucked, sure to be supplanted by this pudge-encased spectator and my size 6 pair of Jordan 13s. You know, when I grew up.

Flash forward to the present day, where I am highly aware of exactly how hard it is to do the things NBA players do with disarming ease after practicing for years. While everyone goes through slumps, and though a relative hierarchy among the haves and have-nots still exists among the league’s players, basically every NBA player has a skill set that brings something to his team that is of consequence (see: Thabeet, Hasheem- height). That’s why the beginning of the 2010-11 season brought a bigger surprise for Rockets followers than most NBA viewers get to see, in the worst kind of way: Chase Budinger did not just look bad; he looked like he did not belong on an NBA team. Read More »

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Kyle Lowry Should Scare You

The point at which an NBA player becomes the best of his team should be a watershed moment, a glorious juncture when potential finally meets production, when all of those scouts can finally stop holding their collective breaths and start to unabashedly gloat. At the same time, being the default best player on an NBA team is a lot like being the prettiest girl in the room. No one appreciates the Ricky Davises and Antoine Walkers and Shareef Abdur-Rahims of the world, tirelessly padding those stats and maybe even sneaking in an All-Star appearance amidst all of the back-breaking, eminently soul-crushing losing that goes on on these teams.

While the Houston Rockets have avoided dealing with quite too much of that mind-numbing defeat stuff (eh… there’s still been plenty of it), the question of who the team’s best player is has been of constant interest since Yao Ming fell down and never got back up in Game 3 of that Conference Finals those 125,000 some odd years ago. Read More »

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What to expect from the Rockets’ upcoming season: Small Forward

It’s a tricky thing to discuss character in terms of sports, to say that one player is superior to another because of his or her mental, rather than physical, make-up. That sort of logic might lead to some absurd assertion like: “Dr. Jack Ramsey would take LeBron to school in a pick-up game,” or “John Hollinger could absolutely handle Dirk one-on-one!”

But that’s exactly what I’m about to argue, not that any of us could play professional sports if we just studied hard enough, but that an NBA player’s mentality might be just as important his physicality.

This consideration, I believe, is particularly relevant to the Rockets’ current cache of Small Forwards.

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Welcome, Michael Pina; New Red94 contributor

I’m pleased to introduce our newest contributor, Michael Pina.  Michael is the founder of an all-everything, killer crossover promoting NBA blog called Shaky Ankles. His work has been featured on Hardwood Paroxysm, Buckets Over Broadway, Both Teams Played Hard, and linked to The Point Forward, Ball Don’t Lie, and  many other various/random locations. He believes Jonny Flynn is the next Aaron Brooks (in a good way). Follow him on Twitter @ShakyAnkles.

What ensues beneath the jump is Michael’s first contribution to Red94:

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