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Old 10-04-05, 01:38 PM
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Rockets fighting Optimism

This is pre-Alston-James trade stuff



Rockets fighting optimism
Good vibes tough to contain at Media Day
By JONATHAN FEIGEN
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printsto...sports/3381054

Tracy McGrady did not want to make the bold proclamations his coach finds so distasteful. But he said he expects the greatest season of his career.

He did not want to talk about regular-season records or postseason runs for the Rockets. But he could not deny his feeling that this could be a "special" season.

He stopped himself before he talked about championships, as he did before last season and as Rockets owner Leslie Alexander did when the team spent much of Monday at Toyota Center for Media Day in preparation for today's start of training camp.

But for all McGrady would not say, he betrayed a sense of how he felt.

"I think it's probably going to be the best year, not only of my career, but I think we're going to do something real special this year," McGrady said. "I just see how guys are coming into training camp. Everybody's in shape. Everybody's attitude is real positive and real humble about the situation.

"I busted my butt to exhaustion this offseason. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. It's just really exciting, because I think this might be a real special year, and I know it's going to be better than last year."

Last season ended so disastrously — with the Rockets getting blown out in Dallas in Game 7 of a first-round series — the Rockets could understandably have been humbled. If they were not, coach Jeff Van Gundy made his disgust with proclamations clear in the team meeting before Media Day as the team heads toward its first preseason game at Philadelphia on Oct. 11.

"You don't need a lot of bold predictions today," Van Gundy said. "The championship-caliber teams that I see don't talk a whole lot but play very consistently."

Even Alexander moderated his usual enthusiasm heading into a season. But after a few minutes describing the uncertainties of sports, Alexander was asked about the potential of a team built on the foundation of McGrady and Yao Ming.

"I think at some point we'll win the championship, or two or three," Alexander said. "I think we have the foundation. We have guys that are young, just coming into their prime. At some point, whether it's this year or next year, we'll win a championship. I'd take both."

Having finally returned to his vintage form, Alexander busted out his distinctive giggle.

"I told him I would fine guys for bold statements," Van Gundy said. "I was just messing with him. He said, 'Yeah, but that's good for publicity for the team.' Les has the right — he owns the team — to say anything he wants."

Reason for optimism
He would seem to have reason for optimism. The Rockets limped to a 6-11 start last year and did not climb past .500 for good until Jan. 12. But they still won 51 games.

And Derek Anderson, Stromile Swift, Lonny Baxter and Luther Head should improve depth.

Still, Van Gundy has a long list of areas that need improvement for a regular season that starts Nov. 2 against the visiting Sacramento Kings.

"Whether we (sustain our good play longer than we did last year) or not — that's what the season is about," he said.

That message seemed to have gotten through, particularly when McGrady cited the turnaround of the Minnesota Timberwolves, an example that Van Gundy has often cited to prove how fragile success can be.

"We look pretty good when you see the names down on paper," McGrady said. "At the same time, we have to prepare ourselves to hopefully finish out better than we did last season. We don't know how things are going to pan out, regardless of the guys we brought back.

"I look at Minnesota's team. They had the same guys brought back last year. The year before, they were in the Western Conference championship. They didn't make the playoffs last year."

McGrady stopped himself before he might have veered toward bold predictions. But the Rockets had the sort of season that should keep overconfidence in check.

"We showed we can be a pretty good team, but obviously there were nights — Game 7 (against Dallas) — we were very bad," David Wesley said. "We have to play each and every night with that same intensity and concentration, because if we don't have it, we can be as bad as any team in this league. If we have it, it could be a very special season."

Alexander confident
Still, the owner said this team could win championships. No one argued, and not just because he is the boss.

"We definitely have the guys. I think we have the pieces to get to that level," McGrady said.

"With that said, we still have to go out and prove we can do that. This is a tough league to win in. As good a player as I am, I've never been out of the first round, so it's really tough. But that is the ultimate goal."

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Old 10-04-05, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
"With that said, we still have to go out and prove we can do that. This is a tough league to win in. As good a player as I am, I've never been out of the first round, so it's really tough. But that is the ultimate goal."
"As good a player as I am"
I'm not saying he is not, but you never say stuff like that about yourself.
It's up to other people to say you are good T-Mac not you!
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Old 10-04-05, 06:29 PM
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^ I don't see a problem with what he said. If he proclaimed he were the best SG/SF in the league, that's be different - but he said 1) He's a good player and 2) He's never been past the first round, both of which're true. I'm interested to see what he can do with this new lineup.
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Old 10-04-05, 06:48 PM
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I think the Rockets are going to be big competition for the Spurs this year. There I said it.
Boo-YAH!
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Old 10-04-05, 06:55 PM
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Why would you fight optimism? Who wrote this article, Arthur Schopenhauer?
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Old 10-04-05, 07:28 PM
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They'll be a challenge, but Mac needs to get his team past the 1st Round before saying anything
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Old 10-04-05, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Deimos
Why would you fight optimism? Who wrote this article, Arthur Schopenhauer?
I think the Rockets are confusing optimism with over-confidence. I know that's been a problem for T-Mac in the past. I think the Rockets do have reason to feel cautiously optimistic. They look better (on paper) than they have in years. Of course, you know what Tim Duncan says about "on paper".
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Old 10-05-05, 11:52 AM
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McGrady needs to learn how to lead a team out of the first round before getting giddy for a championship
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Old 10-05-05, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Deimos
Why would you fight optimism? Who wrote this article, Arthur Schopenhauer?
Thanks, man -- I needed that.
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