Rocket Man With tough love, a Houston fan translates his obsession with Steve Francis and Co. to the Web

March 05, 2001

Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee get the TV face time, but it's hard
to believe any NBA fan puts in more time on his avocation than
David Hardisty. An Internet and computer programmer in Austin,
Hardisty, 27, spends two to three hours a day on his Rockets
website, clutchcity.net--one of the more imaginative and thorough
fan-operated sites on the Web. (The name derives from the term
that was in vogue when Houston won NBA titles in 1994 and '95;
webmaster Hardisty is known to site visitors by his online
moniker, Clutch.) "This isn't a press release type of site,"
Hardisty says. "If somebody doesn't play well, we'll say he
sucked." On Feb. 3, after the Clippers had humbled the Rockets
101-84, Hardisty's postgame recap was headlined DISGUSTING.

Hardisty claims that clutchcity.net gets more than 30,000 page
views a day. Visitors see an intelligently organized and
information-packed site. The history link has records for every
season and player in team history, and Hardisty hopes to provide
every box score going back to the Elvin Hayes days and beyond,
when the franchise was based in San Diego. The 2,600 bulletin
board members sometimes even provide an early whiff of a major
story, such as the acquisition of guard Steve Francis (above)
from the Grizzlies in 1999.

Hardisty juggles his job, his site and time with his wife,
Brenda, and daughter, Emily, 2. Jeff Balke, a Houston jewelry
salesmen; Brian Kagy, an Austin technical trainer; and Mike
Keeley, a Chicago web programmer, are his main helpers on
clutchcity.net. "[The site] is just for fun. We have real jobs,"
says Hardisty. "Of course, if something really big happens, we'll
be there."

--John O'Keefe

COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)