The Los Angeles Lakers have Jack Nicholson — or at least, they do when they're not missing Kobe Bryant and channeling the Washington Generals. The New York Knicks have Spike Lee. The Toronto Raptors, the Miami Heat, Kentucky basketball and any other team that grabs public consciousness for at least a moment have Drake, the rapper/legendary front runner.
No matter. The Houston Rockets still trump them all. They have J.J. Watt.
The Rockets' court side celebrity can dunk over — or fly by — your celebrity. With ease. And Watt doesn't just take up a prime front row seat. He becomes part of the show.
With J.J. Watt in the house for James Harden and Co.'s playoff opener Sunday night, the sometimes annoying Rockets video board crew flashed his image up on the giant hanging scoreboard screen with the tag line, "Put On Your Shirt." The video crew often does this to regular fans who have yet to don the souvenir red T-shirts placed over each seat, essentially bullying people into joining in on the Rockets' version of what qualifies as an impressive team spirit display.
When Watt was hit with the same treatment, he rather sheepishly held up the red shirt, showing it was a Size Large, not exactly the right fit for a 6-foot-5, 290-pound NFL beast. That didn't satisfy the video board operators though. They kept flashing, "Put On Your Shirt."
The Rockets' court side celebrity can dunk over — or fly by — your celebrity. With ease.
J.J. Watt good naturally complied, pulling the too-tight shirt over his frame to the roar of the crowd. The man knows how to please Houston. The Rockets video crew didn't seem to care that Houston Texans center Chris Myers wasn't wearing his red shirt, seated right next to Watt. If they even recognized who Myers was.
It's refreshing that the biggest Houston sports icon since Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell doesn't feel like he's too cool to force on the too-tight, hokey team T-shirt though. Watt — a converted tight end turned NFL Defensive Player of the Year — probably would have made a heck of a pro forward as well with his freaky athletic skills. He certainly makes for one committed fan.
Watt didn't take the souvenir shirt off after forcing it on. He wore it for the rest of the Rockets' heart wrenching 122-120 overtime loss to the Trail Blazers. No matter how much it challenged his circulation.
It's not like Watt wasn't already representing either. He wore a light blue "Houston Is The City" T-shirt and a Houston hat to the game. The Wisconsin boy showed his immense respect for his adopted city's sports history too, making sure to grab a picture with the greatest Rocket of them all — Hakeem Olajuwon, who had his usual Leslie Alexander-provided prime court side seat.
Watt posted the simple tagline of "Legend" with his twitpic of Olajuwon. People are likely to be saying the same thing about J.J. Watt one day. Whether he's squeezed into a too-tight T-shirt or not.