HOUSTON – After missing the last six games of the regular season with swelling and soreness in his right knee, Dallas forward Chandler Parsons will be back in the starting lineup tonight at 8:30 when the Mavericks face the Houston Rockets at 8:30 at the Toyota Center in Game 1 of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
That means Parsons will also be facing a different kind of music. One which he wishes he could tune out.
In just his first season with the Mavs, Parsons has been become a player Rockets fans have grown to hate. That’s because the 6-10 small forward played his first three seasons with the Rockets, but jumped ship last July and signed a three-year, $46 million contract with the Mavs.
Afterwards, words were exchanged via the media between Parsons and Rockets superstars Dwight Howard and James Harden. Then, when the Mavs played their first two games here during the regular season, Parsons was lustily booed every time he touched the basketball.
Parsons, though, acknowledged that the type of venom spewing from the Rockets fans at him comes with the territory.
"That’s part of the game, and when you’re passionate about a team and you’re from that city and one of your favorite players leaves that city, you’re not going to be a big fan of them,’’ Parsons said before Saturday morning’s shootaround. "So you’re going to let them know when they come back.
"During the regular season, its fun, so I expect it to be more exciting tonight in the playoffs. That’s just how it works out, man.’’
And how it works between Parsons and fans of the Rockets is that they view him as public enemy No. 1.
"I’m sure I’m going to get booed, it’s going to be loud in here,’’ Parsons said. "But that’s just a small piece of this series that’s really irrelevant at the end of the day.
"My job is just to play and to help our team win games. I didn’t come in here to being a villain. I’m just trying to win this series no matter who it was against.’’
Last summer the Rockets allowed Parsons to become a restricted free agent with the idea that they were going to re-sign him. The Rockets were in hot pursuit of Miami Heat free agent Chris Bosh, and were hoping to sign Bosh and also match any offer Parsons received.
However, Bosh re-signed with the Heat, and when the Mavs signed Parsons to that massive restricted free agent contract, the Rockets refused to match it after general manager Daryl Morey said the contract was untradeable.
Some nine months later, Parsons finds himself playing his first playoff series since leaving the Rockets – and that playoff series is against the Rockets.
"It’s crazy how the world works,’’ Parsons said. "Like I said before, this is way bigger than me returning to Houston and me playing my old team.
"This is about us trying to win four games before they do.’’
And about Parsons trying to ignore the loud noise coming from the stands that’s directed solely at him.
"I block it out, and then obviously you’re going to hear it, you’re going to feel it,’’ Parsons said of the noise. "But if I need any extra attention and motivation to play well and to play hard during the playoffs, I’ve got bigger issues than the crowd booing me.
"This is playoff basketball, it’s the most fun time of the year, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball. So a little extra noise in the building won’t do much for me.’’