Top Ten Houston Sports Stories in 2010 (Alternate Title: "Here Comes The Prozac")
Putting together a "Top 10 Sports Moments" list is not supposed to invoke these feelings of anger and depression. But then again, I live in Houston, so try as I might to make this a list that is uplifting and inspiring, I can't.
Brian Cushing will bring a keg and Fear of Tumors to your party
In fact, this may be the second post I've done that requires a warning label (The first one was the one about Greg Oden's penis. Enough said.). So if you're suffering from depression, migraines, or irritable bowel syndrome, you may want to take the day off from reading my stuff today.
Whatever the opposite of a four-hour erection is? Well, that's what you're getting today. So here you go, the parade of contract dumps, failure, deceit and death (yes, DEATH) that I will call my Top 10 Houston Sports Stories for 2010....
10. Bob McNair Dishing Out Extensions Like So Many Nickels and Dimes
The year began with Bob McNair rewarding mediocrity and imposing healthy fear on his staff the only way he knows how -- by rewarding Gary Kubiak with a contract extension. As underrated subplots to this season (and frankly if Kubiak is still here in 2011, next season) go, this is high on the list. How much does the desire to only pay one coach weigh on Bob McNair's ultimate decision with regard to Kubiak's future? Now, contract extensions for DeMeco Ryans and Andre Johnson? Those, I'm good with. Kubiak, not so much.
9. Houston Cougars -- Worst Trip to L.A. Since Bruce Willis in Die Hard
In the 1988 action thriller Die Hard, Bruce Willis plays the part of John McClain, a New York cop who travels to Los Angeles to visit his soon to be ex-wife Holly and kids for Christmas. One problem -- Holly's company's entire building comes under attack from some sophisticated European terrorists and McClain has to singlehandedly thwart the attack. Along the way, his body is beaten to a dirty, bloody pulp, complete with shards of glass in every inch of his bare feet. Well, McClain's journey to L.A. was a day trip at Massage Envy compared to the Coogs who watched their BCS dreams (and in retrospect, their season) go up in smoke, losing Heisman candidate Case Keenum and his backup Cotton Turner within eight minutes of each other in a head-scratching 31-13 loss to UCLA. And naturally, I did a whole column on the Coogs being the "Lock of the Century."
8. LeBron: The Decision
I realize on the surface this isn't a Houston story, but it was easily the biggest story of 2010 and deserves mention on the list. From a Houston standpoint, the trickle-down was the quickly aborted effort to land Chris Bosh, the coveted "impact guy" that many Rockets fans hoped would be the next NBA luminary to fall under the Jedi spell of Daryl Morey. Well, not even a free iPad from Obi Wan Morey himself could get that deal done; Bosh, as it turns out, was going to Miami all along to play on South Beach with LeBron and D-Wade. As far as the impact of this story nationally, well let's see...it was the first time a free agent had their own made-for-television special to announce his intentions, it effectively ended Jim Gray's career as a journalist, it created a collective team villain that the NBA hasn't seen since the Bad Boy Pistons in the late `80's, and it pumped enough interest into the NBA's product that TV ratings in games not involving the Miami Heat are actually up 30 percent. So yeah...this story deserves mention.
7. Jose Lima, 1972-2010
If you want to recount some Jose Lima memories, you can go back and read my obituary to him on the Houston Press website. It's easily the piece I wrote of which I'm most proud. My lasting memory from the day after his death will be doing the morning show with John Granato and Lance Zierlein on 1560. We spent all four hours playing old Lima clips and celebrating his life and his energy. I'll never forget the exact moment where I saw on Lance's face the realization that Lima was actually gone, just a random soundbite Lance heard that made all of the reality of that morning come to roost. In a day and age where athletic narcissism has never been higher, sadly it took the death of Jose Lima to remind us of what a "man of the people" is supposed to be like.
6. College Football Realignment - Crisis Averted, For Now
The rumblings actually started in February with rumors of Texas going to the Big Ten. It turned into a potential for a complete earthquake in June with a mass Big 12 exodus to the Pac 10 becoming a strong likelihood, and then ultimately it ended as one big popcorn fart with Nebraska and Colorado leaving for greener pastures and the Big 12 staying together, albeit on quicksand. If nothing else, it reinforced Texas' spot as one of the top four players on the college football business landscape (the SEC, Notre Dame and Cecil Newton being the other three).