Oklahoma feels better now

While the rest of the country was celebrating the 4th of July, my state of Oklahoma mourned, as Thunder superstar Kevin Durant declared his independence and signed with the much-resented and already-too-good Golden State Warriors.  But now we all feel better, as the Thunder’s other superstar, Russell Westbrook–instead of being traded as everyone expected–gave up next year’s free agency to sign a three-year $85.7 million contract extension.

He is staying!  He is a thrilling player, who had been somewhat in the shadow of Durant but who excelled more than usual when Durant was injured.  Westbrook, the two-time MVP of the All Star Game, is now the face of the Thunder.  And Oklahoma’s favorite athlete. [Read more…]

The Olympics begin

Despite the Zika virus, Russian dopers, apartments said to be unfit for human habitation, fear of terrorism, and excrement in the water-events bay, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will have its opening ceremonies tonight, Friday, at 7:00 p.m. ET, to be televised on NBC.  (Go here for how to watch the ceremony and the subsequent games online.)

Despite the uncertainty and the concerns, the event, which goes from August 5-21, promises to be a good show.  Team USA is expected to do very well.

There have been years that I have resisted, but then I turn on the TV and get drawn in.  Part of that is how the games are covered:  The television shows not just the contest but also goes deeply into the “human” side of the games, telling about the different participants and their sometimes inspiring stories.

Are you a fan?  Will you be watching?  Do you know any dramas or interesting contests that we should be watching for?

[Read more…]

Russians won’t be completely banned from the Olympics

How bad is Russian use of banned performance-enhancing drugs?  Even the country’s paralympic team–those participating in the feel-good competition for disabled athletes–was caught doping.  Nevertheless, the International Olympics Committee has ruled that the Russian Olympics team will be allowed to compete in Rio next month, though its athletes will face extra scrutiny and some teams (such as track and field) may be banned by the sport’s governing body. [Read more…]

Ban Russia from the Olympics?

An arbitration court confirmed that Russia’s track and field team, which was caught in a major doping and cover-up scandal, can be banned from the Olympics.  The ruling also opened the door to banning the entire Russian delegation, if the International Olympics Committee so decides.

Do you think Russia should be banned from the competition? [Read more…]

Kevin Durant breaks Oklahoma’s heart

A pall was cast over the state of Oklahoma as everyone was celebrating the 4th of July.  I myself was at our small town’s Independence Day Parade when we got the news.  Kevin Durant was leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not just leaving but going to the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors, with the super-record of 73-9, whom the Thunder came this close to beating in the playoffs.  The Warriors, whom Oklahoma came to know in the seven game series, the team of the below-the-belt tactics of Draymond Green.

It wasn’t the money.  Golden State offered Durant $54 million over two years, but the Thunder were offering him $201 million over five.  He apparently sees the Warriors as his best shot for a championship ring.  I should say so.  They only lost 9 games last season.  They might not lose any with Durant joining MVP Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.  The NBA suddenly becomes less competitive, less balanced, and less interesting.  With the Thunder, the team Durant has been with for his whole career and taken to the very top tier, he would have been responsible for any championship that they would win.  Now he is just joining a team that is championship-caliber without him.

As Durant’s free-agency drew near, Oklahoma became desperate to keep him.  He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.  The governor said that if he stayed she would give him a cabinet position (on sports and health or some other made-to-order commission).  Oklahoma loved “KD,” flocking to his Bricktown restaurant in their zeal  to give him more and more of their money, and KD responded with generous philanthropic gifts to local charities (including tornado relief) and fulsome expressions of appreciation for the city and the state.  So now it’s like the whole state has its collective heart broken.

[Read more…]

Olympics woes

The Olympic games in Brazil start in about seven weeks.  The state government that includes Rio de Janeiro has declared a “financial disaster,” reportedly enabling the state to funnel funds to the troubled games.  Rio is also at the center of the world’s Zika plague, causing many athletes to refuse to attend.  Russia’s track teams have been banned from competing at the Olympics, due to a previous doping sanction.  Two world boxing federations have forbidden its members from attending the Olympics.  Many of the biggest NBA stars are refusing to compete on another U.S. “dream team.”

Some people are calling for the games be cancelled or postponed.  Do you agree?  Or should we just let it happen, despite the problems, even if that means a less than perfect event? [Read more…]