The Houston Rockets took a beating in 2015, and became more likable for it.
Waylan Choy stashed this in P.E. Class
*The NBA playoffs give you an idea into just how tired drug addicts must be all the time. The Rockets, with their reliance on drawing free throws and prolonging the game, are clearly in the meth addict category of NBA playoff viewing experience.
Teams all lose in different ways. When they collapsed, the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers fell into the doorframe like a corpse and then refused to move until the Heat stepped over them. (The Pacers getting to the conference finals is the real crime, but the Eastern Division still exists.) That Cavs team that LeBron James took to the 2007 Finals against the Spurs lost honestly because they had one player, and one only, and behaved accordingly in close but exciting losses. (They looked like they knew it, too.) The 2014-15 Hawks handed in a professional, concise submission. The Clippers built an epic neurotic masterpiece for which the proper words and terminologies have not been created yet.
Yet, when the Rockets were losing or struggling, they looked human, fallible, even sympathetic. Not all teams are blessed with personality in loss, but the Rockets had it. Look, there's Dwight Howard playing well, but still playing with every glaring flawDwight Howard's always had. There's James Harden singlehandedly keeping the team afloat, and then putting a new hole in the lifeboat, and then plugging it before immediately making a record-setting sized new hole in the boat. There's Josh Smith, caught on camera looking at a pep-talking Dwight Howard from the bench with a look in his eyes somewhere between please stop talking and I can't believe you won't stop talking when I have this look on my very uninterested and unhappy face.
Jason Terry took the ball to the hole last night, looked up, and clearly had the same thought anyone over 30 has had when they get on a skateboard: I've made a terrible mistake, and need to abandon this plan immediately before I am harmed.
That's what this Rockets team felt like in defeat: disparate, fallible parts only united by their system, a system so good with such high-quality parts that it got them very, very far. They looked even worse in comparison to the Warriors, a system whose parts clearly have the kind of unquantifiable supernatural cohesion and chemistry no one can really plan for, or calculate. That's not a rebuke of analytics. It's an acknowledgment that sometimes losing can redeem a mechanically successful but ultimately unlikable thing, or at least make it something more human to the viewer.
I really felt bad for the Rockets with this series. They did look sympathetic.
The Warriors are so good that they did not really have a chance.