In anticipation of the new season, the Rockets have unveiled billboards of Harden, Howard, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons, playing up the fact that they're entering "a new age" of basketball.
You've got to hand it to the Rockets—they know how to market their new team.
Expectations have soared since the addition of Howard. If Harden could lead them to the playoffs on his own, Howard should be the missing championship piece. That's what they hope, and it's what they're selling us on when both stars strike poses like these.
Speaking of which, I've been meaning to address that. Their guises in these visual blurbs look unnatural. Parsons and Lin's are fine, as is the dribbling shot of Harden, but what gives elsewhere?
In the first one, Harden looks abnormally angry, like Houston's brass just told him to shave or something.
I get the whole fierce-competitor vibe the Rockets are going for. Fiery desires to win are important, after all. But he looks less like a game-ready Harden and more like a cross between a black-haired Albus Dumbledore and Tom Hanks from Castaway.
Don't even get me started on Howard—too late.
I'm not really sure what's going on when he's positioned on the far right. Either he's protecting his precious or preparing to go up for a jump shot. If it's the latter, that's exactly why he cannot play power forward.
Otherwise, I give you this:
Superman doesn't look angry or like he wants to win. Rather, he looks like he's entering hour three in the bathroom after his weekly trip to Taco Bell. Steer clear of whatever it is he had.
With that, you have the new age of the Rockets, where artificial anger polices highways in hopes of procuring a title and remedying your urge to shout expletives at fellow drivers.
Hopefully, Houston's Howard-inspired advertisements end better for it than the last team to plaster Howard's face across its city.