Moses Malone to be specific. My first NBA memories are of the 80-81 Houston Rockets amazing run to the NBA finals and the force that was Moses Malone. My basketball memory then shifts to college hoops and the arrival of Akeem Olajuwon with the Houston Cougars.
And yes, there are some bitter memories of the NCAA championship failures. Bitter, bitter memories. But lets not dwell down there in the bile.
I was young, so my basketball focus was not yet honed. It took another big playoff run to draw my attention again. The 1985-1986 NBA playoffs once again featured the Houston Rockets, this time lead by Olajuwon and Sampson to the NBA finals. Once again, they were knocked off by the Boston Celtics and Larry Bird. And yes, to this day the image of Larry "Legend" brings up a little more of that bile for me.
Nothing against the man. Heck of a basketball player. He just played for the wrong team. And from what I know about him he would respect that opinion.
Despite the beat down handed out by Bird and the following years of Rockets failures, the 1986 playoffs signaled the true beginning of my addiction to basketball. Admittedly, my fandom simmered for quite a few years but in the early 90's I found myself in college thus a little more free to expand my obsession.
In other words, out of the iron grip of my parents... I got cable. And suddenly I could watch basketball all of the time. And not long after that the Rockets made their return to the NBA finals and this time Larryboy (just kidding about the link, try this instead) wasn't there to stop them. Critics will point out that some dude named Jordan wasn't there either. But to that I say... don't blame the Rockets for Jordan's own problems. He should have been there and the critics should give him a little more grief about that. But that is another story.
Regardless, the Rockets championships in the 90's were huge for me. Hey, folks from Houston have a LOT of bitter sports memories across the board. Give us a little latitude please.
The late 90's found me living in Dallas and starting to attend Mavericks games because I could finally attend NBA games whenever I wanted. It is a perk of having a J-O-B.
I wasn't a Mavericks fan then. I was an NBA fan. I had the NBA League Pass and watched all kinds of NBA games. I got hooked on fantasy basketball and that just made it worse (the addiction that is).
Then a funny thing happened. The Mavericks started to be fun to watch. Don Nelson had drastically rebuilt the team and they weren't exactly good, but they were pretty fun and every once in a while they did themselves proud. I didn't realize it yet. But I was turning into a Mavs fan and eventually into a Mavericks season ticket holder.
Then Mark Cuban came on the scene, Dirk and Nash became stars and suddenly other people wanted to go to Mavs games too.
I'm not going to detail my history with the Mavs from 2000 on because, quite frankly, after the last two playoff runs it is just too painful at the moment. But, the point is that I found myself, quite unexpectedly, a Mavericks fan.
I'm still a Rockets fan. But it used to be easy to figure out who to root for when the two teams clashed. Then one game, I realized I was rooting for the Mavs to beat the Rockets. I'm not quite sure I've come to terms with that yet (and that was several years ago).
So here I am. Mavs fan and Rockets fan. All in one.
And in case you are wondering, I classify myself as a respecter of the San Antonio Spurs. But, like Larryboy, they suffer the incurable problem of being competitors to my teams. So, I'm no fan of the Spurs. And I'm sure they can live with that too.
And that is how we got here. Moses to Akeem to Dirk.
Seems like a good foundation for a basketball column to me.