THE YEAR WAS 1983. It was one month before my 13th birthday. With future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on the squad, the UH men’s basketball team—nicknamed Phi Slamma Jamma after their high-flying style of play—was about to crush the upstart North Carolina State Wolfpack.
I could go into details, but let’s just say the ending found me on my hands and knees, crawling down the hallway to my bedroom, where I collapsed in tears, to the sounds of my parents wailing in the other room. It was a loss so devastating, it kept legendary coach Guy V. Lewis out of the Hall of Fame until just a few years ago.
Welcome to life as a Houston sports fan, a city that still clings to the Houston Rockets' back-to-back 1994 and 1995 World Championships, hoping for relief from our usual heartbreaking agony.
Often, the wounds are so tender, they only need a few words for Houstonians to feel the sting all over again: Mike Renfro. The Buffalo game. Stockton’s three. Entire teams have ridden our misery to success, from the Buffalo Bills completing the greatest comeback in sports history, over the Oilers, in 1993, to the Mets’ 16-inning NLDS game-six win against the Astros in 1986.
The ’stros have only made the World Series once. Though the now-defunct WNBA Comets won consecutive championships from 1997 to 2000, the Rockets have only appeared in the title series on four occasions in their history. And despite early success in the old AFL, no Houston pro football team has ever made it past the conference final.
Even the once-great Dynamo, who won the MLS Cup during their first two seasons as a Houston team, have stumbled in recent years, slipping in the national rankings from fourth in 2013 to tenth in 2016. But that hasn’t stopped the Texian Army and El Batallon from filling the supporters’ stands with drums and flags, horns and scarves, because despite all the pain, nothing will keep a Houston sports fan down for long.