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…]

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…]

The agony of defeat

Well, the Oklahoma City Thunder, after going ahead of the Golden State Warriors 3 games to 1, ended up losing the series, losing game 7, 96-88.  This was only the 10th time out of over 200 games that a team came back like that.  In many ways, the Thunder outplayed the Warriors, but there was nothing they could do against the superpower three-point shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

The Thunder rolls. . .

Now that I live in Oklahoma, I can’t help but get pulled into the vortex of the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The NBA this season has been dominated by two teams for the ages, with astonishing records, hailed by many as among the best teams ever:  The San Antonio Spurs and (above all) the Golden State Warriors.

In the Western division playoffs, the Thunder first eliminated the Spurs and now has taken a 3-1 lead against the Warriors.  Winning one more game in the best-of-seven series will put them in the championship series, against either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Toronto Raptors.

These wins, every one an upset–and the last two blowouts–have been fun to watch, to make a huge understatement.  This has really united the state, as everyone–despite race, color, creed, social position, or politics–is insane over the Thunder.   [Read more…]

The NBA game of the year?

If you are playing football, say, and the opposing team has Superman as a player, it is going to be difficult and probably impossible to win.  The Golden State Warriors have a player, Steph Curry, with a super power.  He can sink three-point shots from virtually any place on the court, far beyond the three-point line.

In one of the best basketball games I’ve ever seen, in what some are calling the NBA game of the year, the Oklahoma City Thunder played Golden State (which has only lost 5 games all season) and actually led for most of the game.  It would have won, if a foul in the last .7 second didn’t result in two free throws that let the Warriors tie the game and sent it into overtime.

But Curry kept launching those three-point shots, bringing the Warriors back into the game again and again, tying the NBA record with 12 three-pointers.  And in the very last moments, Curry shot from what looked like 6 feet back from the three-point line.  It went in smoothly, and the Warriors won the game 121-118.

But I was proud of the Thunder, who gave the Warriors their toughest game all season, even if they did have someone with super powers on their team. [Read more…]

On the NBA championship

For the first time, I actually followed the NBA this season.  That was due to my Oklahoma nationalism–that being where I grew up–and getting hooked on the Oklahoma City Thunder, with MVP Kevin Durant and company.

I had always thought the playoffs, which involve a best-of-seven series on every level with days between games, lasted forever.  But now that I had a horse in this race, I found myself drawn in, as the Thunder advanced two levels–each filled with drama, soap-opera intrigue, and thrilling games–until they were beaten by the San Antonio Spurs.  That team just won the championship by decisively beating Lebron James and his superstar team the Miami Heat.  Watching the Thunder play the Spurs for so many games made me appreciate them, and I’m glad they won. [Read more…]


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