Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Letting go of a grudge

This news is a couple of weeks old now, but I've been meaning to write about it. While one Houston (Astros) was losing in the World Series, another Houston (Allan) was retiring from the New York Knicks. Since it seemed like Allan left Detroit for New York because he didn't want to play sidekick to Grant Hill, I think it's kind of funny that he had to get in line behind another Houston when he announced his retirement.

So how did that move to New York work out for Allan? The New York Knicks' official site calls him "one of the greatest players" in team history. It was certainly a good move financially. (And a lowball contract offer is supposedly another reason he wasn't interested in staying with Detroit.) Houston signed two contracts with the Knicks, worth $156 million total - seven years/ $56 million and six years/ $100 million. (He left $40 million behind when he retired, however.) And from 2001 to 2003, you could argue he was one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, averaging 21.5 points per game.

But isn't it the bling on the ring fingers we ultimately care about? How close did the Knicks get to a NBA championship with Houston? Oh - pretty close in 1999, actually, before losing to San Antonio in five games. (And Houston hit the series-winning shot vs. Miami in the first round of the playoffs.) The next year, the Knicks lost to Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals. And from then on, it's been something of a long slide down to mediocrity. That slide was likely helped by Houston's ridiculously large $100 million contract eating up a huge portion of the team's salary cap.

But the Knicks did come close to a NBA title at one point, which waters down the argument I originally wanted to make. It's been almost 10 years since Houston signed with the Knicks, but the Pistons fan in me still holds a little bitterness. He and Grant Hill were supposed to be the future of the team; fans hoped they'd be the new Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and lead them to new championship days. I suppose that was silly. Almost as silly as the grudge I still hold against Houston. The Pistons have long since moved on, reclaiming its place as an Eastern Conference power, and winning another NBA championship.

Houston certainly had the right to leave. He chafed under Doug Collins' oppressive reign as head coach. He wanted to be a team's #1 star, and where's a better place to do that than in New York City? And maybe the guy never really liked Detroit all that much. Maybe he always dreamed of playing in New York. What's wrong with that? Nothing, of course.

But Detroit fans don't like players rejecting them and their city. You love us, we love you. We already have an inferiority complex, a chip on our collective shoulder. That's one of the things that makes winning so sweet when it happens. And I think the Pistons and their fans ultimately got the better end of the deal. Sorry, but I can't help but gloat a little bit about that.

♦ If you're interested, here's more on Houston's retirement from The NBA Source and MSGNetwork.com.

♦ And look at that, another NBA season starts tonight! I will somewhat shamefully admit that I'm not too excited about that - yet. The Sports Dude's NBA preview is helping me with that, however. And I foolishly signed up for a NBA Fantasy Basketball team, thinking it would make me more interested in the regular season.

But of course I'll be paying attention. I think Detroit is being underrated by many so-called experts who are charmed by the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat (who went way too far in changing their roster, if you ask me). Watch out - the Pistons want to prove they can win without Larry Brown.


  • At November 02, 2005 1:29 PM, Blogger the sports dude said…

    Very nice post about Houston, and thanks for the props down at the end, but dude, where's the linkage? Joke, but to the point...

    I am trying to remember how I felt when Houston left, but I don't recall. I think there was shock there, but never really anger. I took it as more of "his loss" type attitude, we still had Grant! Right?

    I will say this, I remember reading an article a few years back about Houston (I think it was in the freep and maybe by Mitch, so maybe it was all a lie anyway!) but it was about Houston and how he felt hurt by what happened. the part I remember the most was he was talking about his wedding and the only cat that showed up was Hunter, no Dumars, no Hill, no one. Talk about a grudge, huh? That part made me sad, it really did. Later.

  • At November 02, 2005 7:29 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    I thumbed through Eli Zaret's new book on the Pistons at a bookstore today, and frustratingly, there's no insight into why Houston left. It basically just says, "He left, and we still don't know why." But maybe that wedding story - as sad as it might be - is telling. Maybe the dude didn't get along with his teammates?


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