The Houston Rockets celebrated Mardi Gras last Saturday night against the Pacers with a Clutch the Bear Mardi Gras bead giveaway and the Red Rowdies handed out beads to fans during the romp and had a Mardi Gras costume contest. I took the Mardi Gras theme as an opportunity to dress in my homemade replica Calvin Murphy green and yellow San Diego Rockets jersey since I’m normally constrained by the red dress code. It’s astonishing to me how few people know the Rockets started in San Diego, and I’m certain I was rejected of a few high fives during the romp because it did not appear that I was wearing Rockets clothing.
For a few Red Rowdies, including myself, this was the second Rockets game we attended within a week with a Mardi Gras theme. A group of eight of us made the trip to the Rockets v. Hornets game in New Orleans on Sunday, February 27th when the Hornets also had their Mardi Gras night. Of course, their Mardi Gras night was a little over the top compared to ours, complete with a parade at halftime and a debut of the Hornets’ Mardi Gras themed jerseys.
We left right after the home game against the Nets on February 26th and arrived at our hotel in New Orleans around 6 AM. Our sleep was short and we ventured over to the French Quarter for the day around noon. Immediately after parking, we spotted some Rockets t-shirts and a cameraman on the other side of the street, part of an FSN crew, who told us where the Rockets were staying.
We spent the next few hours romping around the French Quarter in our red, chanting and holding our Houston Rockets flag. We purchased a few Rockets beads at a gift shop, ate some fantastic Cajun food and then made our way to the team hotel. The first bus was already half filled with players, coaches and personnel about to depart to the arena. We began chanting to the players on the bus and the players still boarding. We were able to snag a few autographs and photos and had some great conversations with a few of them.
After a quick pre-game romp down Bourbon Street, we hopped into our vehicle, navigated around the Mardi Gras parade traffic to the New Orleans Arena and made our way to the nosebleed seats. We cheered a lot at the beginning but grew silent when it appeared to be a Hornets blowout. I was planning a quick exit in the event of a loss when the Rockets began to make a comeback and won, which meant we could post game romp.
Our favorite chant after a victory at an away Rockets game is, “Whose House? The Rockets House!” The opposing fans hate it, and that is exactly why we love it. However the two best chants after this victory were, “Who dat talkin’ bout beatin’ dem Rockets? Who Dat? Who dat? What?” and “You can have Ariza.” They hated the “Who dat?” since it was originally a Saints’ chant, and the Ariza one was the dagger because our former Rocket must’ve air-balled two or three three-point shots, including one in the last few minutes of the game when they were trying to regain the lead.
We romped back to the vehicle and decided to stop at Bourbon Street to continue our romp before heading back to Houston. We chanted a little bit on Bourbon, ran into the Hornets fans that sat behind us at the game, but mainly had a great time talking with random people from Houston about the Rockets. We arrived in Houston about 5 AM the following morning. This was honestly one of the best days of my life, and we’re looking forward to reliving it on April 6 when the Rockets return to New Orleans.
New Orleans was our 5th road trip this season including two Rio Grande Valley Vipers games. As I have mentioned before, the road trips are one of my favorite parts of being a Red Rowdy. These road trips are entirely paid for and planned by Red Rowdy members. I’ve given a few summaries of our other road trips from this season below. Excluding playoff games, the most fun Rockets games I’ve been to are away games.
10/22/10 Preseason Rockets @ Mavericks in Dallas, TX (8hr & 14min. roundtrip)
Five of us made the road trip to Dallas, something I’ve always wanted to do as a Red Rowdy. With the two regular season games in Dallas during weekdays this season, a Friday night preseason game seemed like the place to be. We were sitting in the lower bowl for this game and it wasn’t long before we got complaints. We had three American Airlines Center security workers come talk to us, including the president of security. They told us we needed to sit down, even though we weren’t blocking anyone’s view and that we could cheer but try not to do it so loudly. We had fans come up and yell in our face and try to start something, people around us relocated to other seats and a man threatened to rip up my sign a Rowdy was holding only during timeouts and quarter breaks. We were treated absolutely terribly from the moment we walked into the arena.
This was the game the Rockets were up the entire time before Courtney Lee stepped out of bounds with .4 seconds left, up by one. The Mavs won the game with an alley-oop to Shawn Marion at the buzzer. This game was almost the complete opposite of New Orleans. We enjoyed every minute up to the end. As soon as the Rockets lost, we gathered up our belongings and nearly ran out of the building to avoid conflict. On our trip back home, we stopped at a Taco Bell about two hours outside of Dallas. A customer inside asked us if we were coming Rockets game and said he recognized me from TV.
11/6/10 Rockets @ Spurs in San Antonio, TX (6hr & 34min. roundtrip)
The Rockets were 0-4 before this game and we were praying that we would witness the Rockets first win of the season that night. Unfortunately, we did not but still saw a remarkable game that went into overtime. This was my third trip to San Antonio for a Rockets game and I have each one has been a positive experience. We are always treated with respect when we visit. I think it’s because the Spurs fans and the Rockets fans can find common ground in their hatred for the Mavericks. Before the game, we made a stop at the Alamo and boardwalk for dinner and had an opportunity to parade around in our Rockets attire.
Whenever we go to San Antonio, we always have Rockets fans move to sit by us, and this game was no different. Brooks hurt his ankle just before half time, and Ish Smith had to take over as point guard. It was a great comeback game for the Rockets, but they lost in overtime. We were planning on returning for the second Rockets game in San Antonio of the season, but the Spurs have been doing so well this season, the worst seats in the house were going for over $30.
2/10/11 Rio Grande Valley Vipers @ Austin Toros (6 hr, & 38min. roundtrip)
I have always wanted to attend a home Vipers game, but they are over 6 hours away from Houston, so we settled by going to an away game in Austin against the Toros, the Spurs’ D-league affiliate. It’s unfair that Dallas is just 45 minutes away from their D-league affiliate and San Antonio is less than 2 hours away from theirs.
I really like the Vipers team and would enjoy being able to attend more of their games in a season. I was a big fan of Ish Smith and hoped he would be there. Unfortunately, Brooks decided to leave a Rockets game early, resulting in a one game suspension. Smith was called up less than a week before our road trip. Still, we were all excited about getting to see our D-league affiliate and give them some support on the road.
We purchased our seats right behind the Vipers bench, although we could’ve purchased cheaper seats and moved up because the arena was empty. Our five voices could easily be heard and seemed to have a big impact when the Toros were shooting free throws. We modified all of our Rockets chants to fit the Vipers and they won 117-97. After the game, all of the Vipers coaches came up to talk to us, thank us and shake our hands. One of them offered to leave us tickets at will-call at the next game in Austin, two days later if we were up for it.
2/12/11 Rio Grande Valley Vipers @ Austin Toros (6 hr, & 38min. roundtrip)
We decided to return to the noon Vipers game two days later because we had such a great time and felt so appreciated at the last one. It was Spurs day at the Toros game, so the Spurs’ Coyote mascot made an appearance. Also a few members of the Spurs’ fan group, the Baseline Bums, were sitting courtside. Nothing makes me more upset than when people compare the Red Rowdies to the Baseline Bums. The Baseline Bums are a private organization and the furthest thing from being rowdy. We couldn’t even hear them during the game.
It was an exciting game, but the Vipers lost 99-105. After the game, we rushed to Houston to make it in time for a Rockets game that night. Not too many people can say that they have been to both a Vipers and a Rockets game in the same day. Making a trip to a Vipers home game in the valley is still on our to do list.
Tough loss last night against the San Antonio Spurs, the first game of a six game home stance. We’ll have five games in nine days, making this potentially one of the greatest spring breaks ever.