Houston Rockets: The New "Bad Boys" of the NBA?

Philip Powell@TerrysboyContributor IMay 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06:  Ron Artest #96 of the Houston Rockets points to his neck as he talks with referee Bill Spooner before he was ejected in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Hey, all. I was up bright and early this morning talking with a buddy of mine and I got to thinking:

"Are the Houston Rockets the modern day Detroit Bad Boys?"

Yes, I know that something very shocking coming from a Detroit Pistons fan, but it's true. And in this humble little column I will attempt to explain to you why that is.

Let's just look at it simply. The Rockets thrive on four things—intensity-filled defense, a genuine like of one another, a desire to be the underdogs, and a love of playing physical and getting to the other team.

Starting to sound familiar?  

The '80s Pistons thrived on not being given much of against the juggernauts of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.  Like the Rockets, they were build around one star (Isiah Thomas) and a bunch of smart, heady role players (Dennis Rodman, Rich Mahorn, Vinnie Johnson).  Trust me, I picked those three guys in particular for a reason.  

Lastly though, they were built on the need to get inside the other team's head—not just with physical play, but by playing mental mind games.

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Rodman and Ron Artest both come with notorious reputations for being...well, nuts!  I however think both guys are master mental manipulators schooled in the Muhammed Ali Institute of Crazy.  (If you remember, the self proclaimed "greatest" was notorious for using psychological manipulation to belittle and frighten his opponents long before they ever stepped in the ring.) 

Both NBA players knew the best way to prove you're better than a guy in any sport is to show him you're tougher than him.

Luis Sciola smartly plays the role Mahorn occupied as his team's spark big man and inside enforcer.  While not as physically imposing as Mahorn, Sciola still takes just as much relish in taking and giving out shots to the other teams guys as they try to pound the ball inside.  Both were also nearly impossible to keep up with on the block.

But the final role-player is a guy the Rockets may not have yet. For those who never had the pleasure of seeing him play, Johnson—aptly nicknamed "The Microwave"—provided the Rockets with a guy who could quickly catch fire, score 15-25 points (usually late in the game), and give the Pistons a valuable tool to match the other team's best player down the stretch.  

A guy I could see filling this role for the Rockets is Ben Gordon.  Even possibly Tracy McGrady—if he can get healthy and/or is willing to accept a trade or pay cut.

Both teams faced struggles (the Rockets not being able to get out the first round, the Pistons coming close to a title only to fall to LA or Boston in their first two tries at the 'chip.)

The Rockets may even be able to overcome their missing factor, especially with the Lakers looking from time to time like a team that has already been crowned champion. Only time will tell.

I just have one question: "Does rooting for the bad boys count if they play for another city?"

Philip Powell is an obsessive fan.  His obsession include movies, sports, and comics.  He is currently a student at CMU studying journalism.  He can be reached here or by email at smoothpdp@aol.com