I’ve never even been able to consider the thought of missing NBA games. The very notion gives me crackhead shivers, the kind that you get in the morning after a particularly long night of dehydration and/or dancing. As a man with his fair share of not-so-enviable bad habits, though, I know that simply satisfying every carnal urge does not make a man (or lady) happy, at least not for very long. In the end, a little bit of contentment cannot replace the lasting serenity afforded by some sense that all is right, for the most part; therefore, I watch this NBA lockout from afar with just enough sense to know that a quick, ridiculously unfair end to this misery Wednesday will not sate me. This thing has to end with a little damn justice. Read More
Every championship contender has its separate yet connected segments. The uncompromising rebounders, self-sacrificing passers, and defensive enthusiasts. The creative coaches who know how to play complicated match-ups and designate rotations, the shrewd wheelers and dealers sitting in an office high above the battlefield, and the owners, who seem interested enough in the sport of basketball to actively involve themselves in the month to month operations of his/her team. But the most visible, and arguably the most important, puzzle piece is the guy who grabs opponents by the throat with a dizzying array of unstoppable offense; the fourth quarter scorer, the go-to guy, the One Who Takes The Last Shot.
Last year was Kevin Martin’s first full season as a Houston Rocket. He started 80 of the team’s 82 games, matching a 2006-07 career high in appearances. Then, he was a 23-year-old in his third season. He saw the court for 2818 minutes and scored 1618 points. Last year, as at the more seasoned age of 27, Martin played 2603 minutes (215 fewer than 2006-07), and scored 1876 points (258 more than 2006-07). Disregarding all other factors such as teammates, coaches, and every other meaningful statistic, these numbers show Kevin Martin’s improvement as a basketball player who’s become more careful in utilizing his moments on the court. His career’s been one of the more unlikely upward renovations we’ve seen in quite some time.
All three Texas teams have now won titles and they did it on the backs of some all-time greats. In a look back at recent history, I got together with Tim Varner (ESPN.com’s 48 Minutes of Hell) and Rob Mahoney (New York Times, NBC Sports, and ESPN.com’s The Two Man Game) for a Texas-sized 3-on-3.
There has been a lot of discussion about how the lockout/now shortened season will affect the NBA landscape. Who will play the role of Shaun Kemp and eat his way out of professional sports? Which veteran team will be this year’s asterisk champion (Spurs again?)? How much will James Harden’s beard interfere with his ability to see the ball?
But for the Rockets, I think the more significant question might be how all this mess could affect the team next year. This season for the men in red was supposed to be about evaluating its young talent. Since it’s been clear numbers 1 and 11 regrettably have bones made of glass, the team has been steadily accumulating assets. But now with Yao and T-Mac officially/unofficially retired and there only being 3 players on the roster older than 26, this was supposed to be the year to evaluate these assets, to parse this pirate’s booty into genuine treasures and costume jewelry.
Fresh off the success of the 5-on-5 project, ESPN.com is bringing the round-table flagship to the pages of the TrueHoop Network. In that vein, we’re kicking things off by posing three of the hottest questions to our three main contributors. If you’d like to hear our takes on any specific topics, shoot me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, @RedNinetyFour on Twitter, or on the Facebook fan page. We hope you enjoy our first installment of 3-on-3-Houston Rockets, with many more to come!