In a day and age of superstars, shoe contracts, and puppets posing as people, the Houston Rockets are a breath of fresh air.
When Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, and Ron Artest seemed to suddenly disappear, there was no telling what kind of team would be left over. After the rubble had cleared, and the roster became apparent, nobody thought that the team projected to finish out of the playoffs could possibly be 18-13.
The reason of their successes...teamwork. Not one player on this team thinks that he is better or more important than anyone else. There is the perfect mix of speed, toughness, and desire, with a little bit of talent mixed in.
The root of their humility is their beginnings. None of the players on this team were number one overall picks. None of them were ever in negotiations for mega commercial deals. Hell, none of them have even ever made an all star team.
Of the 12 players on their active roster, only three of them were selected in the first round of any draft. That number is simply amazing.
But, all of them have something in common; they want to win. They have no business being in the thick of the highly competitive Western Conference playoff race, but they are there nonetheless.
To understand the Rockets you have to look at the core players of their team. These guys are some of the smartest players in the league and would be coveted by any team.
Rick "the general" Adelman
This is a man that has coached some of the best teams in NBA history and several NBA championship caliber teams. This has been his best job yet. He has turned a potential terrible situation and made these guys believe in themselves and the ideals of team over the individual.
The speedy point guard leads the team in scoring and has an uncanny ability to get to the rim at will. He works well with the talented athletes around him and will be a mainstay in Houston for years.
The Ariza/Artest "trade" seems to be working out greatly for the Rockets. He fits nicely in the two spot and seems to be only getting better in his 5th NBA season.
The "sage" of the group. He is the oldest player on the active roster at 31 and continues to be both a stand up guy and a staunch defender. While his scoring is down, he has been a mentor and a coach on the court for this up and coming team.
The Argentinean epitomizes the scrappy style of play of the team. He is always willing to get in there for the tough rebound, but also has a nice touch around the basket in addition to the sweet 15-18 footer he knocks down with ease.
He is a 6'6 center. Enough said! But seriously, people telling him he is too short only fuels his desire to prove doubters wrong and consistently outplay and out hustle some the NBA's elite.
Few guys would be able to get their teeth literally knocked out one night, and be back soon after grabbing boards and putting back easy buckets. His toughness is contagious and an area that many guys in the NBA can take notes on.
So on that note, sit home Tracy McGrady, this team doesn't really need you.