Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 2/17/12
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Five things I'm thinking about this weekend while wondering if Jeremy Lin's greatest cultural contribution might eventually be killing puns once and for all: 1. Something that seems true (and totally is): We don't really know anything more about Peyton Manning's availability to the Texans than we knew a week ago. With all due respect to Bob Allen of KTRK, his anonymously sourced report that Manning would be "definitely interested in possibly coming to the Texans" fell a little short of breaking news. If the Indianapolis Colts release Manning, and he is capable of playing and wants to continue playing, then everybody can safely assume he wants the opportunity to immediately win another Super Bowl, and the Texans would provide him that opportunity. We haven't heard Manning or anybody close to him say that, but do we need to? He isn't going to play for the Cleveland Browns. I am not going to expend many more words on this, because they say writers only have so many words in their systems, and I'm still pretty young, and I already expressed my opinion on a Manning-Texans marriage in last Friday's column. But let me just say this once more: The Texans are a Super Bowl contender, but they are not the right fit for Manning. If they're going to spend a bunch of money on a free agent, it ought to be Mario Williams. 2. Something that doesn't seem true (but totally is): Chase Budinger is going to have a great shot at the slam dunk title, even if he isn't the Rockets' best dunker. I would be interested in seeing Terrence Williams and Budinger go at it, because I remember Williams doing some spectacular things in college and he seems to really appreciate the warm glow of the spotlight. But we don't have that luxury, so we will just assume Budinger is the Rockets' best dunker. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking he's white and you're having a hard time forgetting that White Men Can't Jump (1992). Well, that's true. Budinger is white. But he also is a phenomenal dunker. A former volleyball player, Budinger recorded the third-highest vertical leap in the 2009 draft class (38.5 inches). That was 1.5 inches lower than Rockets teammate Jonny Flynn and 1.5 inches higher than Williams. The vertical is only a part of the dunk shot. But if it is a predictor of dunking success, which it kind of is, Budinger should be going toe-to-toe with Iman Shumpert, who jumped 42 inches at the combine, while dusting Derrick Williams (34.5) and Paul George (NA). 3. Something that is neither true not untrue (but is fun to talk about): The Rockets blew an opportunity to turn Houston into the new San Francisco and shift the cultural landscape of the United States for the next 100 years. If in the season immediately following Yao Ming's retirement Houston had held on to Jeremy Lin, an American-born son of Taiwanese immigrants, it would have looked like the Rockets were using roster spots as marketing ploys. But it probably would have worked anyway. Houston would have been seen as the kind of place that welcomed Asian immigrants, the kind of place where Asian immigrants could succeed and feel comfortable. The city of Houston would have become what San Francisco was in the early 20th century. Already an internationally flavored city with plenty of opportunity and room to grow, Houston would have eventually come to be seen as the ultimate United States melting pot, wresting from New York the title of "Greatest City in the World" and shifting the balance of cultural power in the U.S. away from the coasts for the first time in history. It would have been Linsane. Instead, he's in New York and we're all still just a bunch of guys in 10-gallon hats, chewing on hay. Nothing ever changes. (Sigh.) So way to go, Daryl Morey. 4. Something that recently happened: I met Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama's All-America cornerback, on Thursday. He was working out at Plex, a training facility near Houston, in preparation for the NFL Draft, and he was working out hard. So hard, in fact, that the guy who runs the gym, Danny Arnold, yelled at another far less heralded player for not working as hard as Kirkpatrick, who, to be realistic about it, is going to do just fine in the draft whether he legs out the last three steps of a sprint or not. Arnold, who has been doing this for 14 years, then casually mentioned it is no coincidence Alabama won the national championship. Those guys, he said, go hard. All the time. I bring all this up because if you know much about Kirkpatrick, you probably know he got arrested for marijuana possession in January. Although the charges were dropped, he will still fight all the associated stigmas. I'm not saying that's fair or unfair. But I am saying any team that spends time with him face-to-face is not going to worry. 5. Something that is about to happen: People are going to start demanding the Texans draft a receiver in the first round, and they're going to get really angry when they don't and they're going to ignore all the history that suggests receivers, generally speaking, are not worth a first-round pick.
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