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USA TODAY Sports Media Group
Rockets coach Stephen Silas reacts to blatant untruth told by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst
By Ben DuBose,
Midday Tuesday, Stephen Silas and the Rockets went viral for an unfortunate reason. In a story by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst regarding rookie Jabari Smith Jr., Windhorst shared the following anecdote to illustrate the environment in Houston:
At one point, (Stephen) Silas broke down in tears after a game because he felt he couldn’t reach his players.
Windhorst’s intention was to show that Smith’s delayed breakout — the No. 3 overall draft pick from the NBA’s 2022 first round had largely struggled until after February’s All-Star break — was perhaps due in part to a challenging overall landscape with the Rockets.
However, when the Silas anecdote was aggregated by third-party accounts on social media, many fans cited it as an example of a head coach struggling to connect with players on his team. In other words, that would be a failure at one of his most basic job responsibilities.
There was just one problem, though. The anecdote Windhorst referenced about Silas was more than two years old, and thus irrelevant to the 2022-23 Rockets. Moreover, Silas contends that the crying aspect wasn’t even true, at the time. A correction was later issued by Windhorst and the story updated, but significant damage had already been done to Silas and the team, at least by perception.
Here’s a portion of what Silas told Matt Thomas, who also works as the team’s radio play-by-play broadcaster:
One of the things that came out of this article about Jabari and his improvement was this piece of misinformation that he put in. He basically said that I got emotional and broke down crying because I wasn’t connecting with the players, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a really disappointing thing to read and to hear about. I spoke to Brian yesterday, and he said he misremembered, or whatever.
There was a press conference my first year, where we had lost a bunch of games in a row (20), and I was emotional after the press conference. But I wasn’t crying or anything. Then, he was talking about the press conference this year where I was mad about our defense, or whatever. He just said he messed up, and there wasn’t anything he could really do to fix it. He said he was sick to his stomach that it was put in the article. He said he was going to tweet and try to fix it.
But what I told him, and what’s true… is that stuff like that is hard to take back. Once it’s out, you can’t just have a tweet, and everything’s good. It’s just not good reporting on his part. I have a relationship with him. I was quoted in the Jabari article. He wanted to ask me about it, I told him whatever he was saying was false and incorrect. It was a day of phone calls and stuff that I didn’t really want to deal with. That’s the bare bones of it. It’s just disappointing that he would write something like that, and I’m the target of it, after a rough year.
For that blatant untruth to be in the conversation is disappointing. It was supposed to be about Jabari. I don’t want it to be about me, at all. I never want it to be about me. It is what it is.
“If you ask any of the players if I have a good relationship with them or not, each guy would be like, ‘We love Coach.’ That’s one of the things I’m proud of,” Silas said of his relationships in the Houston locker room. “There have been areas of improvement. There’s been things when we get it all together, it’ll look pretty good.”
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