Houston Rocket fans worldwide had their heart sink a little bit lower in their chest last night. When Yao Ming suffered a knee injury in the first half that kept him out for the rest of the game, a sense a deja vu began to set in.
It's no secret that the biggest problem plaguing the Houston Rockets in recent years has been the health of their superstars. Yao missed only three games in his first three seasons in the NBA. Beginning in the 2005-2006 season, the trends for the Houston Rockets would begin.
Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming played a grand total of 31 games together during this season and the Rockets failed to make the playoffs. Year after year, Rockets fans would see these trends continue. Neither superstar has been able to stay on the court for a full season.
Tracy McGrady's health has been a huge question mark all season. He's in. He's out. He's back in. He's back out. Unfortunately I'm not only suffering the side effects as a fan, as as the owner of T-Mac in my fantasy basketball league. With McGrady's roller coaster of a season, the Rockets have discovered a good young player in Von Wafer. However, there is no diamond in the rough to be found to replace "The Great Wall."
Dikembe Mutombo was able to fill in for Yao Ming and play the role of big man as the team continued their win streak and pushed it to a franchise record 22. Fortunately, the Rockets were able to talk Mutombo out of retirement and serve as Yao's backup once again. Without Mount Mutombo; Scola, Landry, and Hayes are the only players the franchise could turn to in order to fill the void left by Yao Ming.
While the knee injury Yao Ming suffered last night is being described as minor, and it is unlikely it will keep him out any significant amount of time; Rockets fans are cautious. If this team is to finally get out of the first round of the playoffs, they need the All-Star Big Man. A healthy Rockets team has endless possibilities. Healthy being the key-word.
Watching the rest of this season will be a little like walking on thin ice for me. One misstep, and all the hopes and dreams of what can be a serious contender in the Western Conference go down to the tube.