As the Oklahoma City Thunder exit the main stage of the playoffs and go on to a summer that I’m sure will be stuffed to the brim with Call of Duty and Capri-Sun, the young outfit from the Midwest likely takes the last shred of indie credibility that this tournament had left. Yes, for the hipster set, they can all now pack up their Odd Future digital releases and Kevin-Durant-backpacks and go home as the mainstream (groan at your own leisure) takes its typical spot in the NBA Finals. There will be those who will stick around long enough to see some Dwyane Wade Eurosteps and LeBron-run fastbreaks, but the status quo seems to have fully taken precedence this June.
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about when I use the words “indie cred” or “hipster appeal”, allow me to clarify my nonsense. Similar to an earlier discussion this year about “buzz teams” in the first round of the playoffs (when all was right because everything was wrong, and Chris Paul could be easily mistaken for God), the idea of an “indie” team runs along the same vague, arbitrary path, although while “buzz teams” generally need some respectable level of success (a winning record, a trip to the playoffs in the East), a team that appeals to the scenesters need only have some fascinating angle, such as a star with strange tattoos that thinks he’s Jewish or a collection of screw-ups assembled by a mad man. Oh yes, almost any team can have its own crowd of Tweeples and bizarre devotees… except the Houston Rockets.
For some reason, Houston, with its band of brothers that has continually put together contextually impressive seasons and never seems to give up, seems just a little too earnest and nondescript to gain the cynical gazes of those in the oversized spectacles. Where the blue-collar ethos that pervades the Rocket locker room may have endless appeal to the Sunday-paper-columnist crew, there is no room for cool in Houston. Because of this, I’m determined to make the Rockets a hipster favorite, a regular ’06 Golden State Warriors, if you will. So, without further ado, some tips to make all things Rockets cool, or at least make the team easier to fit into those forever-topical-“Which character on The Wire is your favorite player?”-blog-posts:
- Make the players more distinctive. Besides the atrocious, grease-laden hair of Luis Scola, few Rockets possess the kind of accoutrement that generally gets the hipsters hemming and hawing; to fix this, the Rockets need only tap into their creative sides. Perhaps Jordan Hill could have one of his eyes surgically removed so as to wear an eye-patch nightly; this would certainly add character to his face, while not really changing his natural ability to find the ball. Chase Budinger’s forays into the white-guy afro have been half-hearted at best, so some sort of headband/fro combo could really raise his Vice Magazine-quotient considerably. Kevin Martin, with his innocuous personality and ho-hum name, has been one of this league’s hidden All-Stars, so hidden that he hasn’t ever actually been an All-Star (even if the Internet said he was one this year); one likely way to change that perception (or non-perception as no one is perceiving Martin) would be a nickname switch. Being called K-Mart in 2011 is akin to eating at an A&W restaurant this decade; it’s just passé and dorky enough to elicit laughter without being quite old enough to enter “so old, it’s cool” territory. Ideal name changes would be “Floppy Joe” or “Light-Skinned Killa”.
- Make all things retro. Do you know how to your make your jeans cooler? Get some older ones. Your Audi’s nice, but a bit on the gauche side. Get an El Camino. All things are made cooler through oldness, obviously, so the Rockets need to make some efforts in that direction. One clear room for improvement is the team’s jerseys; they look as if they were designed after the 1970’s, a classic hipster no-no. Instead, Houston should probably skip the half-stepping of the team’s current alternate faux-retro and go all in by mandating goggles, short shorts and handlebar mustaches. To really kick it up a notch, heavily distressed jean cutoffs may be the next logical progression.
- Marry a Kardashian. There are more of those, right? One for each unmarried Rocket. I mean, people like Kris Humphries now; that’s got to be worth something. Oh wait, I’m sorry; no one likes Kris Humphries.
- Be indifferent. There is nothing even close to as hipster as not giving a flying hoot about anything. The Rockets have already shown a natural predilection for this on the defensive end of the ball, but it’s time to go further. Hiring Kevin McHale seems a natural step towards this, but did the Rockets ever consider just not hiring anyone for the head coaching job? It would be cheap (super hipster), plus the sharp decline in indie cred for President Obama after his election proves that the apathetic hip masses can’t get down with any older authority figure in suits telling them what to do, even a comparatively younger black guy who claims to like hip-hop. Nothing is cooler than a complete and utter lack of authority; just ask Don Nelson.
- Add players who can do everything, even if they don’t do it any of it well. Most teams worth their salt in indie cred (the English language hates this article) are well versed in the ways of the potential-laden, do-it-all-but-none-of-it-at-a-meaningful-time-types who constantly frustrate the hell out of NBA front offices with their ostensible myriad abilities that appear to all malfunction at once at the most inconvenient times. Take Anthony Randolph. Even without playing for almost the entire first half of the 2010-11 NBA season, the gangly 6’11” center found himself on not one or two, but three indie teams within the span of a year. He was abused by the aforementioned Nelson in Golden State (where his ability to play aggressive interior defense, handle the ball and shoot jumpers were all supposed to coalesce perfectly), shipped to the Knicks (where all of his gifts were supposed to work perfectly) and promptly given a seat on the bench, and finally hurled thoughtlessly over at that island of misfit toys in Minnesota (where his all-around gifts kind of worked out perfectly. Huh); without doing anything in two of those spots, his very presence on those rosters made those delusional, idealistic teams seem a hell of a lot cooler, if simultaneously dumber.
- BRAD MILLER. When you’ve got it, flaunt it. And when you have a big, country guy who loves to wear headbands, shoot ill-advised threes, pass like a point guard, get cornrows, hunt things with his teammates while on the road, seem to cry after almost every one of his hilarious blunders, make hilarious blunders all of the time, and look terribly uncomfortable doing all of it, it’s time to strut that thing. Let’s face it. Trey Kirby loves him. The Internet loves him. Hipsters love him. More Miller time means more headbanded, Supreme-rocking bloggers fawning all over the Rockets.
Maybe hipsterdom should be avoided at all costs, but if the Houston Rockets are going to continue to find themselves in a holding pattern, it would only make sense to look cool doing it. Making sense, though? Totally not hipster.