A Heat wave stifles Oklahoma City Thunder

Well, the Oklahoma City Thunder made it to the NBA championship series but got beat 4 games to 1 by the Miami Heat.  But I refuse to take the blame.  I’ve been enjoying watching basketball again, and I think I’ll continue to do so.

The Thunder rolls

As I have confessed in this space, I have pretty much stopped watching basketball, due to the feeling that I always jinx the team I want to win.  Well, the Oklahoma City Thunder–from my home state–are so good that they even overcame me.

When they were down two games to the San Antonio Spurs, a team that had won 20 in a row, I thought I might as well watch them, since they were going to lose anyway.  Well, they didn’t.  They won.  I kept watching.  They won again.  Then won again.   Apparently my curse has been lifted because last night they won game 4–even though they were down 18 at one point in the game–winning the Western Conference and going to the NBA Finals.

The Thunder–Oklahoma’s first professional major-league team– is a good example of how a sports team can be good for a community and a whole state, sparking a sense of unity, confidence, and all kinds of civic virtues.

Thunder finish Spurs, advance to Finals – USATODAY.com.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma finally has a professional sports team–the Oklahoma Sooner don’t count–and, within just a few years, it’s in the championship hunt!  The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 105-90, to win the seventh game playoff, putting them up against the Dallas Mavericks for the Western Division championship in the NBA.  The winner will play the Eastern champion, either the formerly always dominant Chicago Bulls or the superstar team of today the Miami Heat.   Wouldn’t it be something if the Thunder could beat either of those teams?  At any rate, the performance of the Thunder this year, with its great player Kevin Durant, is great for Oklahoma City and for all of my fellow Okies, including those of us in the post-Dust Bowl diaspora.

via Thunder top Grizzlies 105-90 to reach West finals – dailytribune.com.

Oklahoma sports

The Oklahoma Sooners, from my alma mater, had a miserable season last year by the standards of  the University of Oklahoma, an 8-5 record.  And yet my home state just dominated the NFL draft.  Not only was OU quarterback Sam Bradford, who sat out most of last season because of injury, the number one pick.

Six players from the state of Oklahoma were chosen in the first round. The most players from Oklahoma colleges previously chosen in the first round was four — in 1976 and 1970.  The number 3 and the number 4 were also Sooners.  So three of top four picks were from OU.  If we throw in Oklahoma State University, a Cowboy was number 6.   So four of the top ten picks were from Oklahoma schools.  One other Sooner and one other Cowboy were also taken in the first round.

In addition to Bradford, the state players who have been drafted are:

— OU’s Gerald McCoy (defensive tackle), taken No. 3 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Click to read more.

— OU’s Trent Williams (offensive tackle), taken fourth by the Washington Redskins. Click to read more.

— OSU’s Russell Okung (offensive tackle), taken sixth by the Seattle Seahawks. Click to read more.

— OU’s Jermaine Gresham (tight end), taken at No. 21 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Click to read more.

— OSU’s Dez Bryant (receiver), taken 24th by the Dallas Cowboys. Click to read more.

via Tulsa World: OU’s Bradford taken No. 1 in NFL draft.

In addition to this good showing, Oklahoma’s first professional sports team–no, we won’t count the Sooners in their scandal years–made the NBA playoffs and the first professional playoff game was played on Oklahoma soil. That would be the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not only that, the Thunder, in its second year of existence, had its coach Scott Brooks named coach of the year and Kevin Durant won the league’s scoring title. In its first year of existence, last year, the Thunder only won 23 games, and here they are in the playoffs against the champion Los Angeles Lakers. Here is a nice description of Durant playing Kobe Bryant in the team’s first home playoff victory:

In a move that could have been perceived as naive, daring or dumb, Kevin Durant asked for a fourth-quarter challenge on Thursday that most would rather avoid. At the urging of Oklahoma City assistant coach Ron Adams, Durant signaled to teammate James Harden to make a switch on defense.

Durant wanted to — no, needed to — guard Kobe Bryant during those final 12 minutes in which Bryant has established his reputation as the best closer in the game.

The move startled Bryant, who isn’t used to having his shots contested by a 6-foot-9 forward with seemingly never-ending, elastic arms. Durant helped force Bryant into missing eight of his 10 field goals in the fourth quarter. He blocked one of Bryant’s shots and saved the ball to preserve a four-point lead, then posted up Bryant, spun around him and nailed a baseline runner in a scintillating sequence that secured the Thunder’s 101-96 win over the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.