Admit it, Rockets – You Got Scorched
Dwight Howard said something Saturday night. It was his simple explanation of the Houston Rockets’ humbling loss to the Golden State Warriors. “They just played harder than us,” he said.
Fair enough, and maybe true. But his neglect to acknowledge the real reason his team lost illustrates a mindset among NBA players, in fact, many pro players in all sports. You see, pro basketball players don’t like complementing or paying homage to players on opposing teams.
The real reason the Warriors took the 115-80 triumph was that Stephen Curry blistered the Rockets for 40 points, shooting 12-19 from the floor and 7-9 from three-point range. It was about as good a performance as a basketball player could have. But you had to go way, way deep into the Houston interview session before you found someone who actually mentioned Curry’s name. That mention came from Jason Terry, the poor bloke who had the assignment of guarding him. “Curry is doing a number on us,” he said. “That's my matchup and I take responsibility for it.” Sure it hurt, but there was no way he could avoid saying it.
There are a couple of reasons professional athletes are this way. One is that they are professional. At this level of competition, everyone is good, and a lot of players are great. There are just so many ways to say that Stephen Curry can shoot well. It’s a given. The other reason is simple pride. Every player on an NBA roster has been a winner somewhere. He has been constantly told he was exceptional, has been aggressively recruited, pampered and certainly paid well. Even when he gets slapped in the face with the reality of NBA competition, it is still hard to acknowledge that others are better.
It may irk some fans that players are this way. But these pros know the deal. They may not want to come out and say that Curry, or James, or Harden have had great performances - particularly after having lost to them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not thinking it.
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