Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm's 2008-2009 Season Preview: Houston Rockets

I've got two words for you.

Crazy Pills.

The philosophic tangle that is the 2008-2009 Houston Rockets might as well be the meeting of the Pirate Kings in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The disciplined workmanship of Shane Battier. The quiet resolve of Yao Ming. The tragic exuberance of Tracy McGrady. The simplistic celebration of Luis Scola. The bombastic rapture of Rafer Alston. And of course, Crazy Pills.

Morey has somehow managed to keep this core together, never able to get past the obstacles, never disintegrating into dust. And while he has yet to sip from the sweetest cup, he's also put himself in position to trade for the final piece. And he decided the unstable Ron Artest was it. In doing so, he's put himself in position to collect the reward for the years of hard work and effective management. He's also created one hell of a fascinating team.

Here's what's odd. The Rockets are filled with tough players. Guys that like to play low, like to get their hands dirty, like to mix it up. But they are not a tough team. And this is because their two best players cannot stay healthy. It seems ridiculous, but it's not. McGrady's still not healthy as this season starts. And Yao is one of those guys where every time he winces, your breath catches. At this point most Rockets fans are investing in oxygen tanks.

Pills brings them toughness. Not just "I can take anything you throw at me" toughness, but "I'll get you before you get me" toughness. This team will be more aggressive than it has in the past. A very underrated and rarely mentioned aspect of this season is Aldeman finally installing his offense. It's going to attack from multiple angles, it's going to angle for efficiency, and it's going to come at you. The question is whether he'll detonate, and if he doesn't, if the rest of this team can match his intensity.

At the same time, this team already had built a tazmanian devilish approach during the win streak last year. Adding Artest to that is like injecting nitro in it. If they are able to use that attitude and infuse his energy, they're going to have something that simply wreaks havoc every time on the floor.

Of course, one significant injury and this team could fall apart. Another 22 game win streak is unlikely if that happens. And Artest has to stay out of trouble. The locker room may not be strong enough to survive his hijinx.

We'll see what we get, the devil, or the dud.


They're statistically adept. High point differential. Good efficiency statistics. High PER players.

They're sound. Traditional center with great footwork. Emphasis on rebounding. Lockdown defenders at multiple positions.

They're entertaining. Perimeter shooting, pull-up fadeaways, short hop dunks, and Scola throwing himself around.

But maybe the best reason to love the Rockets is that victories for them are victories over the parts of us that hold us in ineptitude. In chaos. It pulls us up from surrendering to our temptations of weakness and presents an alternative. Discipline. Pride. Commitment.

And also? Crazy Pills is completely insane.


Everyone gets injuries, you weaklings. How about you buck up? I made excuses for you in that Jazz preview, but let's be honest. Utah owns you. Lock, stock, and two smoking Boozers. You could have Yao Ming, Ron Artest, Superman, or Jesus Christ on a pogostick on your team and Deron Williams still would have made you look silly. So how about until you prove you can beat this team in the playoffs, you quit playing the injury card.

Even without the injuries, you want to hate this squad? How about Tracy McGrady? Mr. Not Good Enough somehow finds new ways to fail in tragic ways. The man is like a human Cure album. It would be kind of neat if instead of tip-toeing through the tumble-perimeter, Tracy would go back to, you know, trying to beat people, but hey, he's a Carter, what are you going to do?

How about Rafer Alston? There's a winnner. Pass.

Luther Head? I'm not even going to justify this.

Scola? Hey, Beastman? Why don't you learn some offensive moves and quit throwing yourself out of bounds. You're like the jumpo package Andres Nocioni.

All in all, this team always has an excuse. If you don't like excusing mental weakness and an inability to close, hop on board the hate train.
A Musical Interlude:

I need your help, blogosphere. Spread the Crazy Pills name. I want it on SportsCenter. I want it everywhere. Spread it. Make it happen.

Just don't tell Ron we came up with it.


Paroxi-Wife Note: There was a rumor that Ron Artest was trying to get a blog and having trouble getting a network to pick him up. My theory is the Rockets' PR department is (wisely) THROWING money at networks NOT to let Crazy Pills have a blog. That's damage for which there is no control, friends.

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