Wow, what a game. First of all, to the tape – I learned tonight that there is perhaps nothing more frightening in life than being in a lockerroom with the Boston Celtics after a twenty point loss. I pretty much bombed this set of interviews. I went in with a list of questions I wanted to ask of Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rondo, Big Baby, Shaq, and Wafer. I left with footage I wasn’t even sure I wanted to publish. I completely missed out on Pierce and Allen (you have to be standing in the inner circle for a proper camera angle) and got rebuked by Big Baby (“I don’t want to answer any more questions.”) Shaq and Wafer left without speaking. Big Baby went on easily the most animated monologue I’ve seen in my time in NBA lockerrooms — and I completely missed it. When asked about the Hill incident, I just vividly remember the statement, “he was trying to hurt me.” (For some reason, his whole manner of speaking reminded me of this.) Valuable lesson learned: always roll tape; I typically only hit record when I’m doing the interviewing, wanting only my own original content – this was before I had met Big Baby Davis. Always roll tape. Then of course there was Delonte West, a fascinating specimen in his own right. I thought the question was fairly reasonable but…he did not agree. By the time I left the visitor’s lockerroom, only Chuck Hayes remained for the home team.
To the game: easily the most entertaining of the year. If the Rockets somehow make the playoffs, the sequence where Chuck Hayes ripped the ball out of Kevin Garnett’s hands will symbolize the season. Just an amazing, amazing win. The entire atmosphere was electric with the feel of the playoffs. That 2nd quarter actually felt like the postseason. Things got so testy you could almost imagine Rafer Alston sitting in a dark room somewhere, watching, and smiling down in approval. (Of course, insert my obligatory “Rafer would have been thrown out by now” commentary.) This version of the Rockets almost feels like last year’s on steroids. They have the same scrappiness but in the form of offense which makes things, as a spectator, absolutely electric. And what more can be said about rookie Patrick Patterson, he of the 18 points, 12 boards, and 4 blocks…? I don’t know if they can pull it off, but I would give anything to see this team in the playoffs.