Space City exclusive interview with Rockets’ reporter Vanessa Richardson

Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook, James Harden (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

It’s been quite an eventful season for the Rockets, ranging from questions of whether Harden and Westbrook would thrive together to going to the small ball switch mid-season. What have been your thoughts on the Rockets as a whole this season?

Early in the season everybody was questioning whether Russ and Harden were going to play well together, but I personally never questioned it. I knew they would be fine, simply because they’re childhood best friends.

I do think the small ball experiment has been interesting. When they lost four in a row, shortly before the hiatus, I remember Mike D’Antoni quoting Winston Churchill, saying “if you’re going thru hell, keep going.” I remember him basically saying “we’re in hell right now.”

Some would argue that maybe the small-ball approach hasn’t worked out like they thought it would, but we haven’t really had the chance to truly see it. Because it worked out in some games, then there was the four- game losing streak, and then the season was suspended.

So it’s really too soon to tell if the small-ball scheme has worked or not, but it has been an interesting team to cover. The fact that Harden and Westbrook are back together and are these mega superstars makes it interesting alone.

Then you add in to the fact that the Rockets have so many veterans on the team and then the trades, so it’s been really cool to cover the Rockets for my first year in Houston for sure.

You recently showed off an insanely accurate Jon Gruden impersonation. Where did you learn that? Did someone teach you that?

We were trying to do something creative for the NFL Draft and my colleague Ari Alexander said he could do a Bill Belicheck imitation.

I felt like Jon Gruden would be a good one for me to imitate because we have alot of things in common. I’m very excited and always bubbly, and sometimes the things that come out of my mouth are a little strange. So I figured that would be a good one for me to imitate.

That was actually the first time I had ever done an impersonation, but it was really fun for the end of Sports Sunday.

You mentioned Terre Haute, which is where Larry Bird played college basketball. Do you think he gets overlooked in alot of the all-time greatest conversations?

Yes. Let me first admit that I’m biased because I’m from Indiana. Growing up in Terre Haute, all I ever heard about was Larry Bird. He put Indiana State on the map.

Even though I didn’t go to that school, my dad and all of his friends did, and they were there when Bird was playing. I also know alot of Bird’s family members because I worked for him with the Pacers, so I can’t hide my bias.

The greatest of all-time argument is super subjective, and most people will take Michael Jordan or LeBron James. If you’re judging solely off championship rings, you may take the Bill Russell route, but I’ll always say Bird is top five.

Especially with the way he played and the amount of work he put in. Obviously he was talented, but those stories about him getting to practice two hours early to shoot free throws and randomly deciding to shoot with his left hand should also put him in the G.O.A.T. conversation.

His fundamentals were insane. He and Magic Johnson were credited with changing college basketball. I do put him in the conversation of the greatest ever. I would say Jordan is the GOAT, but if you’re having an intelligent conversation, Larry should be included as well.

Next: Reggie Miller, Elvin Hayes, Harden's legacy