As Spurs close in, Van Gundy is Texas' latest score
Things are bigger in Texas, especially when it comes to the expectations for new Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy.
Someday soon, someone down there is really going to ask this question. Doesn't matter that the Lone Star State is universally regarded as a football state.
Someone is going to ask out loud, with some justification: Is Texas big enough for its three NBA teams?
Not now. Not since the playoffs started. Not with Texas quickly becoming an even bigger story than it was.
Mavericks hush skeptics by reaching conference finals. Spurs dethrone Lakers and then outlast Mavs to inch toward second championship in five years. Rockets hire Jeff Van Gundy, straining to keep up with their neighbors.
Monday's announcement that Van Gundy has agreed to succeed Rudy Tomjanovich as Yao Ming's coach continued the power shift. The Rockets can now claim three marquee names, including Steve Francis, as they move into a new arena in October.
Of course, the new standards of the state suggest that Van Gundy, at worst, better get Houston in the playoffs by next April, or else the Rockets might be ripe for exile. Just hiring a big-name coach -- the biggest name they could get after Larry Brown went to Detroit instead -- might not amount to much by next week, if the Spurs trump the Rockets by winning another title.
Especially if the Spurs then go out this summer and sign Jason Kidd or Jermaine O'Neal or any other prominent helpers when David Robinson retires ... as part of what their owner actually once called "rebuild mode."
That's how it is in Texas these days. Rebuilding is bigger and better than ever before.