April 27, 2005
by Ric Sweeney
To this day, nearly three years later, my Texan hat still draws hushed whispers, sighs of anguish and quiet condemnation whenever I break it out on my friends and neighbors here in Dallas. I have to admit, it’s a pretty neat charge of a feeling.
But this – this is bigger. This feels special. This, of course, is the Rockets’ 2-0 lead in their first round match-up wit the Mavericks, who call the hellhole of Dallas home.
T-Mac is on a Dream-like level right now. Yao is hard to root against. And the rest of the team is a group of scrubs playing their hearts out. Hmmmmm… sounds a lot like the last champion to grace the city’s presence, doesn’t it…?
I certainly thought the Rockets could extend the Mavs, maybe even beat them in a long, tough series – I’ve always thought the Mavs were VASTLY overrated – but winning both games here? After game 1, I started to believe it was possible when I watched the Rockets punch Dallas in the mouth and not back down, but not prior to. Now I’m convinced this Maverick team would have a difficult time competing in the WNBA, which is where teams with no balls belong, by the way.
So what’s it been like, living amidst the absolute easiest fans in the world to despise with every fiber of your being? Well, I haven’t been up prior to 6am for any reason beyond work since… well, not since I’ve had cognitive memories. Yesterday and again today, however, I was up at 5:30, driving to work like my car was stuck in a perpetual school zone, driving slow enough to allow me more time to soak up all the vitriol and fire while trying like hell to avoid getting hit by all the lame fans here crashing back down to Earth. Fun? I don’t think that’s a strong enough word. Giddy would certainly work its way into the equation, but beyond that… I’m at a loss. Is giddilicious a word?
A week ago, all the talk here was about PHOENIX. "How do we stop PHOENIX?" "How do we match-up with PHOENIX?" "Won’t it be fun to play PHOENIX?" Whenever the Rockets were brought up, they’d be quickly dismissed, usually with a sneering chuckle: "Who on that team is gonna guard Dirk Nowitzski?" they’d ask, nose stuck so far in the air, it was snowing on their brains. Which would account for them not having heard of a certain defensive stopper (and, apparently, anti-Nazi) named Ryan Bowen. Or is that Chucky Brown? Feels the same, doesn’t it?
What I couldn’t believe was that no one here was asking who on the Mavs was going to stop T-Mac? Or Yao? And NO ONE mentioned the coaching discrepancy. Jeff Van Gundy has coached circles around Avery "Auerbach" – the greatest 18-game coach in NBA history. You would have thought he was named Pope the way people here carried on about him, but then, that’s Dallas – intricately and hopeless tied to their sports teams because, otherwise, they have to retreat back to their own facade of an existence. Anyway, turns out Avery’s about as good a coach as he was a player – a loud blowhard who was always more talk than action. I still hate him for his antics in the 1995 Western Conference Finals when he tried to convince every one that David Robinson was better than, or even on par with, Dream. Yeah.
Speaking of that match-up, Dream’s jock-loosening spin move on Robinson that year has a new partner in Rocket playoff lore – McGrady’s rim-rocking, "I’m (insert name here), bitch!" dunk on Shawn Bradley’s head probably made Joseph Smith spin in his grave. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if at least three of Bradley’s wives leave him after such a gutless display. Not only was the play an all-timer, but the quickest computer wallpaper download in recorded history. It’s also been plastered all over various screens of co-workers, too, who have been auspiciously quiet this morning… wonder why?
Actually, I have no idea where this is going to end; no idea if they can even beat Dallas in the series, but… these first two games have been remarkable. This has a ’95 feel to it… we even get Phoenix in round 2 and possibly San Antonio in round three – same journey Dream and Drexler took after shocking a division foe in round 1. Bears mentioning…
Whatever happens, there are no words to describe the delirious fun it is to be in the thick of Dallas’ meltdown, to bear witness to the mass exodus from the bandwagon.
19-10 was great. But this… this has the potential to be special.
Ric Sweeney shot J.R.
Tracy McGrady Home