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CHRON--To Francis, new arena brings excitement that translates into winning atmospher

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by SA Rocket, Sep 13, 2003.

  1. SA Rocket

    SA Rocket Contributing Member

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    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle
    Steve Francis leaned back in one of the oversized chairs that serve as the American Airlines Center benches. The Rockets had taken the floor in the Dallas Mavericks' arena for the first time and were naturally checking out the sparkling, towering new facility.

    Players traded comments about the training pool just off the home team's locker room, the seats close to the floor and the celebrated DVD players in every Maverick's cubicle.

    Francis, however, marveled and even envied something far less tangible than electronics or soft towels during the visit 1 1/2 years ago, then thought about the day the Rockets would open a new home of their own.

    "It will make a difference," Francis said that February day of the mood that comes when a team moves into a new arena. "I think those are part of the reasons they're winning. They have a new arena, new uniforms. They feel a sense of newness and excitement. They're playing better. It's all exciting."

    Francis toured the Rockets' new Toyota Center home last weekend. When he was through, he had the mood change he had imagined that day in Dallas and hugged Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson.

    Today, the Rockets will throw open the doors of the arena. With a free ticket available at area Toyota dealerships, fans can check out the wide seats and plush suites, the bars and restaurant and even -- pending some last-minute construction -- the locker rooms and training facilities that soon will become off-limits.

    Dawson and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy will have a question-and-answer session at about 1 p.m. Assistant coaches Tom Thibodeau and Steve Clifford will put on a clinic. Bands will play.

    Fans will see roughly everything the arena has to offer -- except the answer to the question that matters most: Will it help the Rockets win?

    "To me, all this is very important as far as the franchise and winning," Dawson said. "It shows our owner is committed, the fans are committed. It was needed. It can really help. Atmosphere creates mood.

    "Plus, the lower bowl is impressive. More than 11,000 people will sit in the lower bowl. That's a lot of people close to the court. Your team will feel them cheering. Opposing teams will feel them cheering for us. I think that helps. When fans are close to you, yelling for you, that helps. You get energy from the crowd."

    The Rockets boast of having a larger portion of the arena's 18,500-seat capacity in the lower level than any NBA team. Still, the shape of the arena might help increase a home-court advantage, but the players on the court and the fans in the seats still must determine how well a team protects its turf.

    The advantage Francis desired that day in Dallas and believed he had found last week on the corner of Polk and La Branch streets is more a function of attitude.

    "I don't think you equate any one thing in the work environment to victories," Van Gundy said. "But overall, the work environment, the culture around the team goes a long way toward winning or losing. Having the players know they are a priority and giving them the best possible work environment does that.

    "Home-court advantage does go up the closer the fans are to the court. I still think home-court advantage comes down to how good the players are. If the team wins, attendance goes up and that creates a better home-court advantage."

    But if the building can create an imprecise benefit of a winning "culture" and "environment," it also could create a positive image around the league, a benefit in the age of free-agent recruiting.

    There might not be an example of a free agent that chose a team for its weight room. And the Rockets always listed their wing of the Westside Tennis Center as a recruiting advantage. But Dawson clearly planned to use the arena and its in-house training facilities as part of future pitches to free agents.

    "The arena is a tool," Dawson said. "In free agency, when we're competing, we have a pretty good plan to show, a downtown arena, the city, support -- those are big factors when we're vying for free agents. This shows commitment. The whole complex downtown is very impressive."

    Players could not help but notice that the Rockets played in the NBA oldest (save the completely refurbished Madison Square Garden) and smallest arena, and were guests in the tennis club.

    As with his team's play on game nights, Van Gundy said individuals rather than facilities will determine the Rockets' work ethic. But if an oversized locker room and weight room, saunas, steam rooms and one of those training pools of their own inspires them, Van Gundy will not complain.

    "It's not about how extravagant it is; you make it private and practical and a place where people want to come and will come to work," he said. "A lot isn't just the facility, it's the core members of the team, the leadership and how much they value the work that goes into winning.

    "When something is your own, you take more pride in it. The people up here at Westside, just in my short time, ... have been great. It's not anything they have done, but a new arena obviously represents a different level of commitment."

    As much as the luxurious suites, high-definition video screen and wine bistros will be on display today, the change in attitude means as much to the franchise -- and "The Franchise."

    "When we first went to Staples Center, everybody talked about that it helped the Lakers out," Francis said. "It will be good. Everybody will see it's great. For the fans, everybody will enjoy it. For the players, it's nice and we don't have to travel to a different site for practice and games.

    "When you go to Arco, Staples and places like that, the players at home are really pumped. Now, if you're not motivated enough already, you will be. It gives your young players a swagger. We were last on the totem pole to get a new arena. We were definitely aware of that. But from what I saw, man, it was awesome.

    "It was unbelievable, man. I like the arena 300 times more than the new uniforms."


    Hmmm...is the arena that outstanding or is Steve really not that enamored with the new uni's or both?:D
     
    #1 SA Rocket, Sep 13, 2003
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2003
  2. jiggaj

    jiggaj Member

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    That is not what I wanted to hear. Way to go, Tim, way to go. If the Franchise isn't happy with the uni's, neither am I nor should other fans be. All we asked for is a simple new look and we get a gothic symbol and shorts with the Star Trek logo. You went after an Asian audience with this new "BIG" thing, and left hometown fans, and the team's best player, unhappy. That's just great. Just great.
     
  3. Rockets_Truth

    Rockets_Truth Contributing Member

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    Nice. Why does he keep mentioning the new uniforms in a negative way. The first comment I heard him make were the uniforms were OK. At least they were better than the last uniforms. Now he mentioned the arena was 300 times better than the new uniforms. It doesnt seem like he is too happy with them.
     
  4. Mr. Mooch

    Mr. Mooch Contributing Member

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    While his name is 'jiggaj,' he may be on to something.

    But I think Franchise just said that he liked the arena better, probably because there was, well, more of it.

    It must be one hell of an arena. I'll agree the uni's are too plain. It looks like pure blood with molten lead dropped on it.
     
  5. tigereye

    tigereye Member

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    Uhh............just wanted to point out one tiny iddy biddy fact........

    Francis has never said that he DIDNT like the uniforms.

    In Fact, he gave them an 8 out of 10 a while back.........

    And one more thing.........Tim and the rest of the Rockets staff GAVE you people what you wanted.

    A simple look.

    You cant get anymore simple of a look then what they have come up with. And it looks great too.

    So give them all a break..........they deserve it. Trying to appease and address every fans desire's in a new uniform design has gotta be a tough job.

    I think they did a fabolous job at that, especially compared to the clown suits the Rockets used to sport.
     
  6. Rockets_Truth

    Rockets_Truth Contributing Member

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    The pics we have seen of the new uniforms and the uniforms in NBA Live are just prototypes right? I hope those are not the final jerseys. If they are I still like them better than the pinstripes though.
     
  7. Mr. Mooch

    Mr. Mooch Contributing Member

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    Well again according to Nelson Luis from when we got a sneak preview...

    Is this really true, Tim? I'm assuming the only 'difference' is the jersey material and shoulder length.
     
  8. rockets-#1

    rockets-#1 Contributing Member

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    I'm just glad Steve is happy.:) I can't wait to get to the test drive today.
     
  9. Rockets_Truth

    Rockets_Truth Contributing Member

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    I wont be able to make it to the test drive today. I hope somebody will be able to take pictures. I think I heard they should have the court installed.
     
  10. rockbox

    rockbox Contributing Member

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    The new arena is awesome. The new unis are decent (better than the pin stripes but not better than the red and gold). The new logo and font just plain sucks. It's not nearly as cool as the texans logo.
     
  11. Roc Paint

    Roc Paint Contributing Member

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    I am not as excited as I should be, and believe me it's depressing me.

    go rockets!
     
  12. Deuce

    Deuce Context & Nuance

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    Very cool article! Wish I could attend some games this year in the new arena. I bet it would be awesome!

    Moving on...that last sentence in the article was very odd!

    From the video game screen captures we have seen I personally think the new uniform looks pretty good. I don't think it is an out of the park home run but I like it a heck of a lot better than the old ones and it is clean and simple. In the past we heard that the players had been seeing demos of the uniforms and liked them so this comment from Steve seems way out of place!

    I mean, whether or not he likes the arena that much or not to compare them to the uniforms in an unfavorable way has to mean that he is not too keen on them which totally does not jive with some of the preliminary stuff we heard about the players liking them in the past. But we have this comment in this story and then on a recent radio interview he did not seem to keen on them.

    Whatever. I can see them not liking the old uniforms but the new uniforms from the bits and pieces that we have seen are pretty good so I am not sure what exactly would appease Francis.
     
  13. blazer_ben

    blazer_ben Rookie

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    i gather francis is'nt a fan of the new unis;)
     
  14. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    I am going to take video - I will get some still captures, too.
     
  15. New Jack

    New Jack Member

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    It's possible that the uniforms the players liked most are the ones the NBA rejected and that he's not quite as impressed with the jersey's the team had to settle with.
     
  16. tigereye

    tigereye Member

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    This is all especialy true when you consider the fact that the players like Steve, got the chance to provide input and had a big impact on the uniform's design, something in which most teams don't do.

    So if they are not to keen on the design.........then technically, its their fault. ;)
     
  17. frankblack

    frankblack Contributing Member

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    I agree - that definetly sounded like a crack on the new uniforms to me. The ones that have leaked out actually look pretty darn good to me - let's hope they didn't screw em up "a couple generations" down the line.

    those proposed Power Dancer uniforms just looked plain STUPID - let's hope they're nothing like those. Those looked like rejects from Star Trek.
     
  18. AroundTheWorld

    Supporting Member

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    Francis should shut the hell up about the uniforms and focus on working out with Jeff Van Gundy.
     
  19. Timing

    Timing Member

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    Tsk tsk... SJC everyone knows that new arenas and uniforms win games, not hard working players. Practice!?!? We talkin about practice!?!? ;)
     
  20. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    First, that may be the worst headline in the history of the Chron. They must've had a TON of space to fill.

    Second, you guys are so predictable. I read that line last night and thought, "Oh, Lord, here we go..." :D

    Since very few here seem to have any understanding of logic whatsoever, let me break it down:

    A. Francis has not said once that he doesn't like the uniforms.
    B. Francis has said he thinks the uniforms rank an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.
    C. Francis said he loved the building.
    D. Francis said he likes the building 300 times more than the uniforms.

    So, IF he thinks the uniforms are an 8 out of 10 AND he likes the building 300 times more than the uniforms, you absolutely cannot logically make the leap that Francis hates the uniforms.

    What he indicated was that he loves the building EVEN MORE than he likes the uniforms. That is not a condemnation of the uniforms. It is simply and endorsement of the building.

    Given that information, we can only conclude that the arena is one bad mutha, which it is. No ohter conclusions can be drawn from his comments.

    Of course, this is the same board that concluded that him owning a record label clearly means he cares nothing about basketball, so why do I even bother? :)
     

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