Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta defiantly guaranteed that James Harden will lead his franchise to championships.
“They kicked our ass on our home court,” Fertitta said after the Warriors eliminated the Rockets for the fourth time in five seasons, ending Houston’s season with a 118-113 win in Friday’s Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. “They beat us by 10 points in the fourth quarter. It’s unacceptable, OK? We just have to be better. “I know that we’re going to rise to the occasion and our time is going to come. James is 30 years old [in August]. … Hakeem [Olajuwon] didn’t win his first championship until . I can promise you, we’re going to win some championships with James Harden, because we are not going to sit here. We will go to battle every year. We’re going to have a strong offseason, and we’re going to do whatever we need to do to be a better team. We are not going to sit on our hands, I can promise you that.”
The Warriors closed out Game 5 after All-NBA forward Kevin Durant strained his calf late in the third quarter and rallied to win Game 6 while he watched from home.
“They showed why they’re the champions,” Fertitta said. “We’re gonna learn from it, and we’re gonna come back next year, and we’re gonna kick their ass at some point. I can promise you that.”
However, like Fertitta, Harden expressed confidence that Houston would contend again next season and find a way to beat the Warriors.
“I know what we need to do,” Harden said. “I know exactly what we need to do. We’ll figure it out this summer.”
Asked for specifics, Harden declined to elaborate.
Fertitta indicated that the Rockets needed to improve intangibles such as killer instinct.
“I’m a fighter,” said Fertitta, who has owned the franchise for two seasons. “That’s my culture, and I think the longer that I own this team, they’re going to pick up more of my culture. We had [the Warriors]. We should have stepped on their throat the other night and cut their throat. It’s not, ‘Let’s make a few shots and win.’ It’s step on their throat and let’s take it back to Houston and end it in six. We’ll pick up a few Tilman-isms along the way in the next few years.”
The Rockets and their billionaire owner can have all the confidence in the world they’re going to win, but in reality, with Harden and CP3’s contracts, there’s not much they’ll be able to do.
Have fun cutting that luxury tax check.