Monday, March 17, 2008

The Best Team in the League

My boy, Duke, raised an interesting question last night just after the Rockets won their 22nd straight game vs. the LA Lakers 104-92 in Houston. What's more difficult to accomplish, an NBA Championship or 22 wins in a row? 40 teams in NBA history have won a Chip, only 2 teams have ever won 22 games in a row.

A lot of players and basketball analysts like to throw around the notion that success is measured in Championship rings. The notion is overrated. Success is always relative, and in sports, perhaps better served in memory, in what stands out to us 25 years from now, in what makes history. Has there been more a testament to the concept of team play in the 21st century than what the Rockets are doing right now?

Because this is not the Baylor/Chamberlain/Goodrich/West Lakers or the Oscar/Kareem Bucks. This is a team with no Hall-of-Famer (yet), they didn't enter the season feeling destined to win the Chip. If you ask any of the Rockets right now if they expect to even make the Finals, they won't say yes. The Rockets know exactly what kind of team they are, that's what makes them special. They have that rare but perfectly balanced self-awareness, the kind that makes you fight every play. There is no player in a Rockets uniform right now who thinks they're going to coast their way to the playoffs.

In 22 consecutive games, there hasn't been one letdown. The skeptics can pore over the strength or non-strength of this schedule all they want. They're missing the point. It's true, the Rockets aren't this good based on their individual talent. They have something intangible, something that can't be quantified or tracked statistically--except by maybe Daryl Morey. This is a star-based league, and even moreso in the playoffs, so the Rockets may never get to the Finals, but there is no better team in the NBA this season. Or for many NBA seasons past.

• • •

T-Mac shoots 4-16 for 11 pts and the Rockets win? I'm not sure you could have convinced anyone in Houston of that before it actually happened. But the Rockets continue to amaze even themselves. Rafer Alston may be the league's Most Improved Player... in the course of one season. And for all those years that Shane Battier has been snubbed from even consideration for the Defensive Player of Year, start sending videos of this game to anyone with a vote. I mean, seriously, I'll try to track down some addresses.

Originally posted at Yao Central on March 17, 2008 07:43 AM


Anonymous said...


I'm glad that someone recognizes how special this streak is.

Hopefully, in time, more will understand.

Thank you.

Ray said...

It's so refreshing to see a real TEAM, vs 1 or 2 superstars and a bunch of fillers around them.