I knew it was coming as soon as the Dwight Howard chase officially got under way on July 1. It was the most predictable thing about the NBA offseason.
The bashing of Houston by the national sports media.
If you pay attention to these sorts of things, which I have since moving to Houston, you know what I’m talking about. The national media despises Houston.
It’s been going on for years. The first time I noticed was when Bill Simmons traveled to Houston several times in the early 2000s. He wrote about his disdain for the city on numerous occasions, including writing that you only go to Houston for work, to gain weight, or to get shot.
For the record, Houston is nowhere near the top of most dangerous cities in the U.S (though he is right on about getting fat).
There was plenty of complaining by writers on Twitter during the NCAA Final Four in 2011, because heaven forbid, they had to experience traffic getting from their hotels downtown to Reliant Stadium for the games.
Because of those instances, I predicted complaining about Houston when the city was awarded Super Bowl LI last month. It took mere minutes after the announcement for it to begin.
Yahoo writer Pat Forde wrote on Twitter, “50th Super Bowl will be in San Fran, 51st in Houston. I know which locale will be more popular with the media. (Hint: Not Houston.)”
SI writer Andy Glockner added on, writing that, “Area 51 would be more popular than Houston.”
Look, I get it – if you only visit for a few days you probably won’t be that impressed by the concrete jungle. The traffic can be a disaster, which is highlighted due to some sports venues being spread out and hotels not near Reliant Stadium.
However, if you listened to national sports media, you’d think Houston was like District 9. It’s not.
As a transplant that moved here in 2006, I can say that Houston is a great town with a beautiful downtown, a great museum district, fantastic sports venues, and plenty of awesome places to eat. Forbes even named Houston “America’s Coolest City” in 2012.
Yet the national sports media apparently doesn’t see or care to see any of that, and I don’t understand why.
ESPN was really the worst during the D12 decision. They were practically trying to will D12 away from Houston.
Here are some of the ridiculous (non-Lakers tradition) arguments ESPN was using to convince Howard to go to L.A.
• That Texas no-state income tax doesn’t make that much of a difference
• The marketing opportunities aren’t the same in Houston that they are in LA, because Houston is a small market
Sure LA is the second largest TV market in the country, but Houston is No. 4. There are PLENTY of marketing opportunities out here.
•The climate in Houston is horrible
This was my favorite, seeing as a radio host from Cleveland said it. That’s right, someone from Cleveland was saying Houston has a horrible climate.
Yes, during the summer, it is hot as hell in Houston. However, the NBA regular season runs from Nov.-April. Average high temperatures – Houston, 69.5; Cleveland, 44.5. So who exactly has the horrible climate?
Also, LA’s average high over those six months is 70.1. I don’t think that 0.6 of a difference matters that much during the winter months.
When the ESPN broadcasters weren’t practically begging D12 to go back to LA, they were pushing Dallas.
“You won’t have to follow in the shoes of Hakeem,” they said.
“Dirk is declining and will let you be the man.”
“They’ll have a ton of cap space in 2014.”
Seriously? Why would he go somewhere where they are telling him to wait until next summer, when Houston offered a chance to win now?
It’s probably no coincidence that ESPN has special websites for both Dallas and L.A.
Howard chose Houston, and even then, ESPN (namely Chris Broussard) was reporting that he was wavering on his choice till the end. If D12 wasn’t going to one of their two favorite cities, they were going to make sure and bash him on his way to Houston.
Look, Howard has proven to be a big-time waffler and probably doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. However, in this case, ESPN was just pulling stuff out of their ass to further their case that he was a moron for spurning L.A.
I don’t think the Rockets or Texans making a run at titles will make the national sports media like Houston. In fact, I’d expect more bitching the more they have to travel out here. For whatever reason, most seem to have it in their minds that Houston is amongst the country’s worst major cities.
Houston’s best hope is to vote for the renovating of the Astrodome and have Super Bowl LI in 2017 go off without a hitch. That means beautiful weather and an improved hotel situation. It’s not impossible, but everything has to go right.
Until then, I’ll be defending my new hometown. Don’t believe what the national sports media says about Houston – it’s a great town and I love it.
Are the Rockets title contenders?
As for Howard signing with Houston, I think it was a good move for the Rockets.
Some fans were mad, saying they had a cheaper version of Howard in Omer Asik. Look, I like Asik a lot, but he is not Howard. He’s not even close.
If he’s healthy, I expect Howard to return to being one of the top five players in the NBA. His free agent situation was clearly effecting him the past two years, and I think now that he’s at a place of his choosing, his attitude will improve.
So are the Rockets title contenders now? Not yet. They really need one more star player – namely a point guard or a power forward. I thought Josh Smith would have been a natural addition to Houston, but they couldn’t pay him the money he got from Detroit.
The pipedream for Houston fans is acquiring Rajon Rondo for Asik and perhaps Jeremy Lin. I’d be shocked if Boston was dumb enough to do that.
I expect Asik to be traded before the season for someone. When that trade happens, then I think we can evaluate if the Rockets can make a run at the NBA title.
• If you missed “Sharknado” on SyFy last week, then you have failed at life. It was honestly the best B-movie in history. I mean, Ian Ziering jumped into a shark with a chainsaw. That’s all you really need to know.
• I watched all four Mission Impossible movies on Netflix the past few weeks. Here’s my question – who would want to join IMF? It seems like they spend all the time getting stabbed in the back by rogue agents. Doesn’t sound fun to me.
• If you haven’t seen “This Is The End” yet, I highly recommend it. I haven’t laughed that much since “The Campaign.” It’s raunchy as hell and features a ton of ridiculous situations, which adds to the hilarity.
• I really enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness, but apparently it promotes bestiality. Uh…OK….
• New TV shows that I’ve gotten addicted to recently – “Call of the Wildman” and “Naked and Afraid.” I’m not really proud to admit that.
• Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post wrote a great column about how Aaron Hernandez’s murder charges shouldn’t paint all NFL players as violent criminals. She had great stats to back up her point.
• Jarred Cosart, a pitcher I covered in high school, got called up to the Astros last week. He had an awesome debut, throwing eight scoreless innings and beating David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays. Still surreal to see kids I covered during their high school days starting to make an impact on the professional level.
• Finally, I present this video without any comment….
Bear Down and Keep the Faith!