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Tuesday December 15, 2009 7:20 PM

The Ultimate Holiday Wish List


A guide to shopping for the Rockets fan in your house

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff Writer

HOUSTON - Confession time. I’m terrible when it comes to making Christmas lists for myself. Like anyone else, I have gifts and gadgets I want throughout the year but for some reason when December rolls around I go completely blank, almost as if suffering from some sort of holiday-inflicted performance anxiety.

As these things go, it’s certainly not the worst affliction in the world but it is rather bizarre, you have to admit. I mean, who can’t rattle off at least a half dozen things they desire at a moment’s notice? Just me, apparently. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly a characteristic friends and family find endearing. Which could help explain the cold stares I receive from siblings who simply throw their hands in the air and unleash an exasperated sigh of surrender as they give up and give me gift certificates or cash on Christmas day (Please note: I never claimed I didn’t benefit from my unique handicap. And if you’re cynical enough to think this routine is nothing more than an all too convenient rouse, well, you probably know me too well).

So since I’m willing to do anything to avoid focusing on my own Christmas list, I decided to spend time contemplating the contents of an altogether different kind of wish list; namely, that of the ultimate Rockets fan. What gifts would elicit the biggest smile from the most dyed-in-the-wool fanatic? That was the question which encircled my mind while attempting to divine the contents of this list. A few of the answers are probably unattainable for most of us mere mortals, so I tried to provide a few reasonable alternatives in their stead.

One final note: You’ll notice I steered clear of simply listing players I’d love to see don a Rockets uniform in the near future. Sure, we’d all sacrifice our first-born to see LeBron James ply his trade in Houston but, then again, so would 29 other teams. In other words, this is a wish list for Santa, not Daryl Morey (though I suspect our GM is just as magical, never sleeps and also probably shares a hankering for milk and cookies. Come to think of it, have you ever seen Santa and Daryl in the same place? Hmmm…).

Anyway, here’s the list. Let me know what you think. And if you don’t like it, just remember this isn’t exactly my forte. And cash and gift certificates are always appreciated.

1. DVDs of every single Rockets’ playoff game from the ’94 and ’95 championship runs

No. 1 on my list is a personal favorite of mine. I would pay an exorbitant amount of money for anyone who could deliver the goods here. Not only would this gift provide a never-ending number of chill moments but it also recently occurred to me how the passage of time has eroded my memories of Hakeem Olajuwon. YouTube clips are great and all but they’re just not the same. Dream was a one-of-a-kind force of nature, the likes of which we’ll probably never see again. And though I intrinsically know this, there’s still nothing like watching the man at the peak of his powers to truly appreciate his greatness. Those two playoff runs featured Olajuwon at his dynamic, dream-shaking best and I can’t imagine anything better than being able to watch every single one of those games, while simultaneously basking in the joy that ensues as the memories come flooding back fast, furious and full of a player and a team which took this city and its fanbase to never before seen heights.

In the meantime alternative: Houston Rockets 93-94 Championship DVD Set and Hakeem the Dream DVD

2. Autographed/Game-worn Rockets memorabilia

Jerseys, shoes, posters, basketball cards… the options available to collectors today are virtually limitless. You just have to be willing to look around a bit and do some digging. My current holy grail: Getting all the principals involved to apply their signatures to the Rockets 12 Greatest Moments calendar. Requires some work but that would be one heck of a gift to find beneath the tree.

3. An audience with the GM

What fan doesn’t dream of getting an opportunity to pepper Daryl Morey with questions about his plans for the club and his unique thoughts on team-building? Not only would you be guaranteed to learn something, you’d also get a chance to impress Morey with that four-team trade you spent two hours tweaking on ESPN.com’s Trade Machine that’s guaranteed to make Houston the next great NBA dynasty.

The good news: you don’t have to become a stalker to make this happen. You can either have your mind blown by signing up for the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (of which Morey is a conference chair) or, if you don’t mind waiting until the summer months, you can contact the club’s ticket department to find out how you can take part in one of the Rockets’ Breakfast and Basketball events, hosted by Morey and other Basketball Operations staff, held on Fridays during the offseason for prospective season ticket holders.

4. The Rockets’ new alternate jersey

Just because it’s so very cool.

5. The Rockets’ red blazer

Just because it’s so very uncool that it actually manages to double back and somehow become the height of haute couture. I sort of liken it to the sword in the stone in terms of its ability to reveal the real Rockets fans from the wannabes. In other words, only those who truly bleed Rockets red can pull it off. (Note: The blazer is not available online but it can be purchased at the Rockets Team Shop)

6. Courtside seats

There’s simply nothing like seeing the world’s greatest athletes weaving their magic just a few feet away from you. Sure, you know these guys can fly up and down the court but to witness it from the floor is to gain an entirely new perspective on their otherworldly hops, quickness, speed and skill (not to mention the oftentimes outrageous trash talk).

But let’s face it, the premium paid for those seats is beyond most of our means. And though I typically abhor settling of any kind, even I find ticket packages like the Holiday 4 Pack a pretty reasonable alternative (Sales Alert! Sales Alert! This 4 games package includes games against the Hornets, Bucks, Blazers and Spurs, starts at $60, comes with a $100 gift certificate from Lewis Jewelers and makes the perfect holiday stocking stuffer. Yes, that screaming you hear in the distance is the sound of me being electrocuted by the Rockets’ Marketing Department).

7. A date with a member of the Rockets Power Dancers

Come on, you were all thinking about it (at least the male readers were, anyway). And while I can’t hook you up, I can offer a suggestion: come to the game on December 22 before which the first 5,000 fans will receive a copy of the brand new 2010 RPD Swimsuit Calendar. After the game, team members will hit the court to sign autographs and mingle with fans. The rest is up to you. If you’ve got enough mojo to somehow differentiate yourself from the madding crowd and score a phone number, god bless you. A future as the next Vincent Chase surely awaits. And if not, at least you’ll be able to cuddle up with your signed copy of the calendar. Just watch out for paper cuts.

8. Perform at a Rockets game

OK, so maybe your goal isn’t to hook up with one of the performers – you actually want to do the performing yourself. Then may I suggest getting a group together so that suddenly a handful of very cool options will become available to you. Take a look at this page and see for yourself. Whether you want to sing the national anthem, play pick-up ball on the Toyota Center court or simply be part of the pre-game introductions, the opportunity is there. I work for the team and I didn’t even know these options existed until 24 hours ago. Now you do, too.

9. The complete Rockets bobblehead collection

The Rockets have had some classics in this category over the years. My personal favorite: the Dikembe Mutombo bobble-finger. But if you’re like me, you don’t anywhere close to the complete collection and you’re too lazy/cheap to do anything about it. That’s a problem. So I figure there are two potential solutions: 1.) Ask (read: guilt) someone to do the dirty work for you or 2.) Give up on collecting them all and simply start your own collection, beginning with this season. As luck would have it, tonight the Rockets are giving away the highly-coveted Aaron Brooks Red Blazer bobblehead, while the January 27 th game will feature Carl “Just hand me the 6 th Man of the Year trophy now and get it over with” Landry.

10. My job

It’s no secret: I’ve got the greatest gig in the world. And while I’m not quite ready to relinquish this seat just yet, I am willing to get into the holiday spirit and share a little bit. So here’s the plan. In 200 words or less, tell me (email link provided at bottom of page) why you should be the Rockets.com writer for a day. Be creative, original and thought-provoking. Bonus points for classic literary references. Yes, grammar and spelling count. And, yes, you must live in Houston or at least be able to be in town for the night of the game.

Send your response to me by Christmas, at which point I’ll choose the winner who will be credentialed for a mutually-agreed upon Rockets’ home game. What does that entail? We’ll hang out courtside while the team goes through their pre-game routine, watch the game from the media section, attend the post-game press conferences and maybe, just maybe, write something which will appear on Rockets.com.

You’ve got your assignment, now get to work. Oh, and happy holidays.

Got a question for Rockets.com? Send it to Jason Friedman. And for up to the second news and injury updates follow the Rockets and Jason on Twitter.