Thunder Up In A Big League City!

Is OKC a big league city now? It appears they are. Going to the NBA Finals will do that for you. For a franchise that just four years ago won only 23 games, this is a huge turn around. Did I say huge? Monumental is probably more appropriate.  It wasn’t over night, the Thunder improved each and every year. But a bunch of pundits and so called experts, ridiculed the Thunder management when Clay Bennett moved the fledgling franchise from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Even some of the players, looking at you Nick Collison, expressed their doubt of moving to a fly over state where college football is king. But for those of you lucky enough to be able to put your fanny in a seat at Chesapeake Energy Arena, you have witnessed first hand one of the loudest, rocking atmospheres in all of the Association.

Kevin Durant holding the Western Conference Championship trophy

Everyone in the whole state has been united behind the team. Whether you bleed crimson, orange or even blue and gold. And the players now recognize that as well. One reason Kevin Durant quietly signed his extension last year, in essence marrying him to OKC for the long term.

And now who is next? Miami or Boston? Teams that reside in legitimately big league cities. Well now it’s time to prove they belong. To prove they are not only a big league city, but a big league state.

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Durant For MVP?

Why not? Why is he not getting more play? After winning MVP of the All-Star game I really thought this talk would heat up. Kevin Durant  is arguably the best scorer in the Association right now. Who else, besides maybe Kobe, would you want to have the ball in the final minutes. He has  what Skip Bayless calls clutch gene. Look at last night. The Thunder looked lethargic, slow, just going through the motions for three quarters. Then the final quarter arrives, the Thunder down 11 to start and before you know  it Durant single handily brought his team back scoring 18 points for a 105-102 win on the road. How can you argue with that? He repeatedly does that game in game out. The Thunder also have the best record in the league, although by a slim margin.

All-Star MVP Kevin Durant

I don’t see how they don’t cruise through the Western Conference in a head on collision with either the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls in the finals. And my money would be on the Heat not the Bulls With the Heat imploding to the young Thunder again. And KD should be the front runner for MVP. You can argue for Lebron James, but he is surrounded by another super star in Dwayne Wade. Although Russell Westbrook is no bum. But he is not a top five player like Wade is. We will see how it plays out, but I think Durant will push people to talk about him more and more in the second half of this shortened season.

 

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A New Love Lost

Really? Another work stoppage? Just when I thought the NFL was about to get over their money grubbing and bickering we will have to deal with a labor dispute in the NBA.  Now there was a time when I really wouldn’t have cared if there wasn’t an NBA season. I always felt the college game was better basketball. But not these days. It’s almost like I have discovered a new love. A new girlfriend.  All the good basketball is being played in the Association.  And it doesn’t hurt that I have a local vested interest now. And not just any team but one of the best teams  in the league with most of their stars under the age of 25.  A team that went to the conference finals, losing to the eventual NBA Champs.  A team that could very well make a run next year.  If there is a next year.

Now just like with the NFL lockout I am not going to follow the receipts, chase the money.  That would make my head spin too much.  I have a hard enough time with my own check book and it has far less zeros at the end.  But as ESPN’s Michael Wilbon talks about here, several, almost two thirds, are losing money. Huh? How can that be? What I find striking is that all the teams in the league, and I mean all, throw money, lots of money, at many mostly marginal players.  Jemele Hills article gives some examples here. Does that make sense? Now I understand supply and demand.  I understand if you don’t have talent that people want to pay to see it could be difficult. But at the cost of losing money? I need to stop here.  I have already opened pandoras box of money!  This could lead into so many arguments that I don’t want to get into.  I just want to watch my new love.  I just want to see my team play.  See them win a championship. Both sides are taking that away from me, and I don’t like it.

I was never afraid the NFL would miss games. There is way too much at stake for the world’s most popular sport (and I don’t care what you soccer fans think). And nobody in the NFL is losing money.  They are just disputing how to split more money than most small countries have.  But the NBA appears to be in poor shape.  It’s like I am seeing my new love without makeup for the first time.  And from what I read there is no way to resolve it before next November. I will be distracted by football well past then.  Come the first of 2012 though and I will be sad and lonely and will start looking around for something else. My new love.  The NBA.  And it will be no where to be found.

Jilted by new love.