In part two of a Space City Scoop exclusive, Houston Rockets reporter Vanessa Richardson spoke with us about Eric Gordon being healthy, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets’ chances against the top teams in the West, and more.
Rockets shooter Eric Gordon is not only from Indiana, but was Mr. Basketball of Indiana. Did you follow Eric when he was in high school?
When I was growing up in Terre Haute, our schools were in the same conference as the Indianapolis schools. So we saw all of these guys playing. When Eric was in high school, he was on what’s widely considered to be one of the greatest AAU teams ever.
That team consisted of Gordon, Greg Oden, Jeff Teague, Mike Conley, Josh McRoberts, and Daequan Cook. It was absolutely insane to watch these guys play, and you knew that you were watching future NBA stars. It was true blue-collar, competitive Indiana basketball.
There was never an empty seat in the gym, and those guys also all played at local schools. Eric played at North Central High School, and Greg Oden/Mike Conley played at Lawrence North High School, so they played against each other during the regular high school season.
And when they teamed up, it was just unbelievable. A few years later, Eric was also on the Means Streets team with Derrick Rose, and that’s widely considered to be one of the best backcourts in AAU history. So I loved watching Eric play and I actually got to know Eric when I started working for the Pacers back in 2015.
Obviously Eric wasn’t playing for the Pacers but his family still lived in Indy so he spent alot of his offseason in Indy, which is how he and I became friends. He’s one of the nicest guys and he’s respectful and hard-working. So to get to truly cover him for the first time has been really cool.
You recently did an interview with Eric and he said he’s back to 100 percent, in terms of his health. How big of a deal do you think that is for the Houston Rockets?
I think that’s a really big deal. I think Eric being healthy is huge. He signed a new contract this year, and he had a few health hiccups, so when he and I did that interview, it was his first time revealing that he was truly 100 percent.
One of the things I remember James Harden saying during the Houston Rockets’ media day was that if he was feeling it, he would score all the points. And if Russell Westbrook was feeling it, he’d let Russ go off. And if Eric was feeling it, he’ll go off.
Eric might not be the flashy superstar but he’s okay with that. And that’s one thing that I think gets overlooked about alot of the players on the Houston Rockets. It’s one of the reasons they’re fun to cover, because alot of times you have a different person that’s going to step up on any night.
Eric is always going to be one of my favorite players to cover, not only because I’ve known him, but because he was part of this insane group of NBA ballers that I grew up watching, long before I knew him.
It was really cool to see what their AAU team did. And although Oden’s NBA career didn’t last as long as we would’ve liked, all of them had successful college and NBA careers.
But Eric being healthy should make Rockets fans feel really good. During the NBA’s hiatus, one of the few good things to come out of it is that such a huge part of your team feels 100 percent healed and ready to go, should the NBA season resume. I’m a big Eric Gordon believer and I think he’ll always step up when needed, so the fact that he’s healthy, that’s a major piece of the Rockets.
If the season is coming back, you want him healthy. But then you also want him healthy for the offseason program and workouts, so as far as Houston Rockets news goes, that was some of the most surprising Rockets news I had heard during this hiatus.
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