By John P. Lopez, SportsRadio 610
It used to be the best-kept basketball secret in the world.
The tired cliche, the worn-out stereotype went something like this: Texas? That’s football country. Nobody cares about basketball in Texas.
Remarkably, there probably remain some who cling to such an antiquated and completely farcical line of thinking. But most — and specifically NBA executives and players and coaches throughout the basketball world — know better.
From Murph and Rudy T, to Mo Malone and Robert Reid, to the Twin Towers of Ralph and Dream, to the title years of Hakeem and Clyde, Houston has offered the NBA some of the most famous and infamous moments that helped develop the league’s stature.
The game grew in large part because of Houston, as the Rockets always managed to provide big personalities and big moments. In more recent years, the game broke west, into China and Asia with the groundbreaking signing of Yao Ming. Today’s entertaining Beard and Linsanity moments are only beginning, as always Houston Rockets basketball remaining integral in the NBA’s history.
There’s more reason to believe why Houston could and should be a regular All Star Weekend destination.
The game lives here, literally.
The development of Houston as a city that will host its third NBA All Star Game goes far beyond what the Rockets have done on the court. It also is reason why we should expect more All Star Game appearances in regular fashion, much like how New Orleans and Miami have become regular Super Bowl hosts.
All Star weekend is a celebration of the game’s personalities and culture, and a weekend-long party not unlike a Super Bowl week. Among warm-weather NBA cities, few can compare to what Houston has meant to the league.
On the court, two titles came to Houston in the mid-1990s, but beyond that Houston consistently has been a contender. And it is a hotbed for NBA talent — past, present and future — like few others.
Most basketball observers immediately think New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles when thinking basketball recruiting grounds. The fact is, Houston — and Texas — consistently churns out as much if not more basketball talent than any other basketball hotbed around. Summer basketball has been a big reason for the surge, developing into a national power the last 20-years and churning out many more players who decide to stick with basketball. But so has Houston’s unique basketball culture.
Of course Texas is football country. But among the stars who have grown up in the area and used the summer-circuit to become stars: T.J. Ford, Rashard Lewis, Kendrick Perkins, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Stephen Jackson, DeAndre Jordan.
For 2013, three of the Rivals.com top ten players nationally hail from the Houston area. Seven of the 50 are from Houston.
As for the present, Houston’s relationship with basketball is deep and loyal. The culture, the diversity of Houston, along with world-class dining and the hippest, youngest social scene of any major metropolitan area in the country makes Houston a destination point and permanent home for literally hundreds of current and former NBA players.
Some have wondered why Houston has earned a second NBA All Star Game Weekend in a seven-year span. The question should be, when’s the next one? The league should hope, soon. It’s a perfect fit.