What’s with the media’s sudden praise towards the Rockets?

Houston Rockets James Harden Russell Westbrook (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden Russell Westbrook (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets have drawn an exorbitant amount of praise from the national media of late, which is quite puzzling.

There are generally three things we can expect in life: death, taxes, and Houston Rockets slander from the media. We’ve grown accustomed to hearing about how the Rockets and James Harden are ruining basketball and how they’re so painful to watch.

We’ve also constantly been reminded of the Rockets’ fateful Game 7 performance in the 2018 Western Conference Finals in which the Rockets “missed” 27 consecutive 3-pointers (as if officiating didn’t play a part in that). As if that isn’t bad enough, we’re constantly hearing about how James Harden shrinks in the playoffs and is a bad defender, which are both incorrect.

But these days something strange has been happening as it pertains to the media’s coverage of the Rockets, and it’s quite frightening. The Rockets are actually being praised endlessly as the NBA nears a return.

Examining the media’s sudden praise of the Houston Rockets

We’ve heard people like Colin Cowherd and Jason McIntyre offer positive takes on the Rockets, which is very odd considering how they’re not generally known for having positive things to say about the Rockets, or much else for that matter. Former Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy has also sang the team’s praises, which isn’t a surprise at all considering how he’s frequently lauded the Rockets.

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ESPN’s Mike Greenberg has also taken notice of the Rockets and listed them as a team “people need to be watching” upon their return. So what could be the reason for the sudden love? Weren’t these same people saying the Russell Westbrook experiment wasn’t going to work? Or that James Harden does too much isolation and is a ball hog?

Or better yet, how about small ball? Wasn’t the media so sure the small ball experiment wasn’t going to work?

The Rockets only had Robert Covington on the roster for 14 games and they went 8-6 during that span, so the sudden reversal seems a bit bizarre. The Rockets weren’t exactly playing up to their standards heading into the suspension, as they went 1-4 in their final five games before the hiatus, and it’s not like there have been any recent games that would’ve changed the minds of those that had previously dismissed the Rockets.

Upon scouring Rockets Twitter, the belief exists that these same sudden “fans” of the team will revert back to the negativity we’ve grown accustomed to if the Rockets somehow don’t deliver in the postseason, which is probably a valid school of thought if the team underperforms.

There have also been many who believe the media is trying to hype up the Rockets now so that if the Rockets win a title, these talking heads will be able to dismiss it and say it should come with an asterisk. This is also a valid school of thought, as any team that wins the championship aside from the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks are sure to have the title discounted.

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It’s unclear why so many in the media have suddenly jumped on the bandwagon and we’ve got at least another five weeks before the league’s anticipated return date of July 31st, so we should brace ourselves for more praise. Just keep in mind what many of these bandwagoners have had to say about the Rockets over the years, which is a more accurate barometer of where they really stand on the team.