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sport / / BANG/Kurtenbach: Once the best rivalry in the NBA, Warriors-Rockets begins a new, strange chapter

o BANG/Kurtenbach: Once the best rivalry in the NBA, Warriors-Rockets begins a newAllen

BANG/Kurtenbach: Once the best rivalry in the NBA, Warriors-Rockets begins a new, strange chapter


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG/Kurtenbach: Once the best rivalry in the NBA, Warriors-Rockets
begins a new, strange chapter
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2024 16:35:41 -0700
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 by: Allen - Thu, 4 Apr 2024 23:35 UTC

Kurtenbach: Once the best rivalry in the NBA, Warriors-Rockets begins a
new, strange chapter
Golden State Warriors: Gone are the days of legitimate vitriol between
the Dubs and the James Harden-led Rockets. But can one big game spark
old feelings?
>Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, looks to pass the
ball under pressure from Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. (10)
during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023,
in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

PUBLISHED: April 4, 2024 at 7:25 a.m. | UPDATED: April 4, 2024 at 8:49 a.m.

The Warriors and Rockets will play a season-defining game Thursday night
in Houston.

How often have I written a sentence like that over the last decade?

Too many to count.

So why does this time feel so different?

Or, more specifically, why does this showdown not produce any feelings?

The Warriors and the Rockets were once rivals of the highest order.
Their adversarial relationship wasn’t as simple as the team teams
playing each other often in the playoffs, it was larger, if not
downright ideological.

The Warriors won’t publicly admit it because it’s not couth — the NBA is
a so-called “brotherhood,” after all — but this core didn’t pull punches
behind the scenes. They hated the James Harden-led Rockets. They
despised them. And they weren’t always good at hiding it.

And the Rockets, bless them, hated the Warriors back.

It was the kind of hate between two teams that makes sports great.

Houston thought the Warriors were pretentious front-runners. The
Warriors thought the Rockets were styleless hacks.

Both were probably right.

Of course, history is written by the victors and not those who miss 27
straight 3-pointers, so the Warriors’ narrative of events is the
official record.

But if styles make fights, the Warriors and Rockets’ contrast set up
elite showdowns. The personalities only added to the spectacle. As much
as Golden State’s annual meetings with LeBron James and the Cavs were
the defining matchups of the aughts, the real NBA Finals were often
played between the Warriors and Rockets.

Those series built up enough vitriol to last decades.

But while Draymond Green, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Chris Paul are
still part of the Warriors-Rockets proceedings, none of that bile has
made it to 2024.

“I don’t give a damn about the Rockets,” Green said last month.

It makes me miss the old days.

My, how things have changed.

Green wasn’t posturing with that comment, though. He really didn’t care
about the Rockets.

Perhaps for good reason, too.

Thanks to a five-game win streak, the Warriors can effectively end the
surging Rockets’ chances to make the postseason on Thursday. The Rockets
can make the Warriors perspire as they fight for the final spot in the
Western Conference postseason.

This is a big game, yet no baggage is attached to it. Jerry Seinfeld was
wrong — we don’t just root for laundry.

I have a couple of theories on why Warriors-Rockets means nothing but
the obvious and straightforward these days.

The first was that the rivalry was, really the Warriors vs. Harden, and
Harden left Houston and has now been on three other teams. (One move
away from filling out the punchcard and getting a free one.)

The second is that the other Rockets villain, Chris Paul, is now playing
hero for the Warriors, and we’re all apparently okay with that. I still
find it strange that Warriors fans don’t care (maybe Seinfeld was
right), but Rockets fans don’t give a rip, either.

The entire Rockets team has been totally rebuilt since every
Warriors-Rockets game was must-see TV.

And, of course, there’s the fact that while this is a big game, the
stakes aren’t exactly high.

Fighting for the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference playoffs is a far
cry from the battle of Western titans.

There’s hope for a revival of hate, though. The Dubs’ core — Green
specifically — won’t need much prodding to see red.

Perhaps that old Warriors adversary, former Grizzly and now Rocket
Dillon Brooks can help with that.

The new Rockets stand a chance at being hated, too. Jalen Green is
finally living up to his future star potential, averaging 25 points per
game on a 58 true shooting percentage since the All-Star Game. Always a
gifted trash talker with a devil-may-care smile, Green has all the
makings of an arch-villain.

Perhaps the Warriors are too old to be picking fights with a
22-year-old. (Or, in the case of Green, he’s too old to do it again.)

After all, these teams operate on two different timelines. Sorry if that
was triggering.

The Rockets are a young team on the rise. The Warriors are a veteran
team trying to hold onto the last vestiges of dominance—and perhaps
pining for grudges that expired a half-decade ago.

Alright, alright, that last part might be just me.

Perhaps Thursday night will spark a new Warriors-Rockets rivalry. Don’t
call it a rekindling.

And perhaps this is just the nostalgia talking, but that won’t compare
to what these two teams once had.

Nothing can.

sport / / BANG/Kurtenbach: Once the best rivalry in the NBA, Warriors-Rockets begins a new, strange chapter


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