Tag Archives: Thunder

NBA WEEK IN REVIEW: The shock’s slowly wearing off

3 Nov

Can you recall a more interestingly bizarre first week of the NBA season?

One week ago the questions going into the season were spicy enough topics:

Was this the begging of the Lebron dominated ascendancy where he’d win 3 of the next 5 NBA titles?

How long would it take for the Lakers to gel on their run to grab the Western Conference title from the OKC Thunder?

Ray Allen defecting to the Miami Heat, adding fuel to the recently developed rivalry with the Boston Celtics,
and the additions to the Celtics roster in wake of Allen’s departure; with Courtney Lee and Jason Terry.

A week ago about this time in the afternoon, I was smugly sporting my OKC Thunder playoff shirt, having excited discussions about the rapidly approaching San Antonio game on Nov. 1st. OKC was the defending champs of the West, and even with the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, I felt like it was still their title to lose. It would be just a matter of getting better during playoff moments and adding another year of experience under the belts.

Last Saturday night, I was watching one of the College Football games when I saw James Harden’s name go across the ticker. I got excited because this was the news I was expecting–that the Thunder had finally reached an agreement with him.

TRADE??????????? TRADE!!!!!!!!!!! TRADE?????????????

What the FUCK?

Everyone in the room looked at each other in shock, my friend who’s a Heat fan laughed in excitement. I was stunned. Trade James Harden for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and two draft picks. My main man James Harden, not only was he my 2nd favorite player on the team, but he was an integral part of last year’s playoff run. He was just going to get better, and when have you ever seen a title contender tinker with locker room chemistry after getting SO CLOSE to an NBA title?

Wow. I was too high to really deal with it the first night. When I woke up, I had to question if I dreamed seeing that news. However ESPN confirmed the awful news the next day when I checked the internet.

I knew last year’s team was special, even then I knew there was a chance that this particular group of guys was going to change. I knew there was a chance Royal Ivey wouldn’t get picked back up. I was hoping Derek Fisher’s Laker ass wouldn’t be returning. I did not see this coming, and was at least hoping they’d give it another run with the core before breaking up RUN OKC.

Tough night to be an Okie. Notre dame waxes the Sooner’s ass and the Thunder trade away one of the major championship cogs


I’d never seen anything play out like that deteriorating into a trade so suddenly. Maybe Presti didn’t want to drag it out? They say he would get the best deal if he traded Harden before the season began. Five days before the season started?

It wasn’t a very public affair, there were no shots traded through the media, so that is what makes it seem so shocking. There was so much time to still work a deal out, why did this seem odd, strange, almost spiteful. Like “Fuck you! We’ll send you to Houston, see how much you like being the man for a losing team.”

I blame both sides, if there is blame to assign. I definitely feel like there were so many avenues for management to take with this:

Give the team another run and then make decisions on who stays and who goes next off-season. This way you could determine whether it was a good idea to pay Kendrick Perkins big money or amnesty him, trade Ibaka Blocka Flame for prospects, find a suitable point guard so Westbrook can move to the 2, or give Harden an opportunity to show he’s worth max money.

The decision to trade him just seems haste. I almost feel like it had nothing to do with what was happening on the court. I wonder if the front office didn’t feel they could give max-money to a young man dumb enough to get filmed making it rain at the strip club.

Maybe this was brought up during negotiations and it put Harden off, causing a behind-the- scenes souring on both parties. Let’s not forget the terrible NBA Finals he had. He was so awful that I wondered if he was partying too much in South Beach during games 3 through 5. Anyone remember this?

If I recall correctly he’d missed a dunk or two that game also. That missed layup though was critical. Had he made that shot, we may only be talking about the nasty game that Westbrook brought that night rather than his gaffe during the endgame that sewed up the W for Miami. Of course they wouldn’t have even been in the NBA Finals had it not been for “Big Game James II” going HAM against the Lakers and Mavs.

Who’s to say after an Olympic year and the memory of that Finals wasn’t going to fuel him to put it altogether during a Contract year? If anyone was poised for a big year it was Harden. If any team was poised to dethrone Lebron and the Heat it was OKC.

Sure you get some future picks and more pieces for the future but you never know what is going to happen. Ask Penny Hardaway if there are any guarantees.

Which is why part of me feels disappointed that Harden wanted to leave a winning team to be the man on a losing team.
Was six million that big of a deal when you could make some serious loot off endorsements and playoff share?
At the age of 23 how much more money do you need? What can you get at 60 million that you can’t get at 54 million?
Reportedly everyone else had taken less to stay with the team except Harden.

There’s no guarantee that the next big contract would be there at age 27 (arguably a player’s prime)so I guess I see the urgency. If Harden is the kind of dude who plays for money and not championships, then maybe he is better off on a different team.

It feels kind of like a nasty break up. Except in break ups you don’t have to wait four years to get back together. Seeing Harden in a Rockets uniform is like seeing a girl you were in love with married to the very next guy she dated, only 2 months after you broke up.

I haven’t even processed the break up and this cat is already putting up monster games for the Rockets. OUCH. Big time. Much like a jilted lover, I’m looking at all the press clippings, calling up my friends in Houston to ask about him.

It’s just too soon.

I ain’t mad at ya mane. Make it rain down there in Houston

The Thunder definitely seemed like a team in shock against the Spurs. I’m sure it couldn’t have felt good knowing that the last time they played on the Spurs court they had Harden to go to war with. They played well enough to win, that is until Tony Parker took over the last minute of the game.

In addition to giving up Harden, they traded Cole Aldrich, Daquan Cook, and Lazar Hayward, and chose not to re-sign “Royale with Cheese” and “D-Fish”

That’s half of last year’s team gone, with a few new faces in Perry Jones III, Lamb, K-Mart, and Hasheem Thabeet.
It’s not easy to defend a Western Conference title with so much transition in the locker room. I imagine the shock is slowly wearing off and by next month, the 82 game machine will be in full tilt and it’ll be less foreign to see Harden in that Rocket Red and not in Thunder Blue ( I gotta give KD credit on how well he has managed to keep things moving forward–He was quoted after the Spurs game as saying “I back the front office fully on their decisions”).

By All Star Break we’ll see them getting comfortable with each other and I think the 2nd half is where we’ll get a true gauge of how this particular group will mesh. “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons is ready to write them off and hand it to the Lakers( kind of funny because I do recall him admonishing the Thunder for “reaching” for Harden when they could have Stephen Curry). I’m still in wait and see mode. This group may not be able to handle the Heat in June, but I think they can still handle the Lakers in April.

The jury is still out on the Lakers. They kind of look old right now, and Nash and Kobe are both already hurt. We don’t know how Dwight Howard’s back will hold up, Jamison and Artest (I refuse to call him World Peace)are both old. They looked terrible last night without Nash. I’m not sold on their bench either.

Maybe this makes the Spurs sleepers as well, but they still lack a big dude in the post to help out Tim Duncan.

So right now I feel like it’s too early to write the OKC boys off. I kind of like the look of this year’s team. I don’t doubt Westbrook and Durant’s drive to be champions. You definitely can’t doubt their talent. Who’s to say Miami stays healthy? Who’s to say Chris Bosh doesn’t come out and do something to ruin the locker room chemistry in Miami? Chicago seemed poised to knock off the Heat until D. Rose’s unfortunate ACL tear. But that is why they play the game. As my favorite sports reporter Chris Arnold used to say back int the day, ” You never know.”

I’m running with these boys again this year, and see where they take me. KD is right, time to move forward. And yes, I will definitely be attending a Rockets game or two this year to see my main man James put up some points. Happy for him that he gets to be 23 years old and get paid 80 million dollars to live in Houston. He’s going to have a good time. I just don’t think it will translate into a championship ring.

We got next

26 Jun

Things I took away from this NBA Finals experience:

  • My boys had a great season. They got better. Two years ago it was first round defeat, last year was the conference finals, this year the NBA Finals. Jimmy Johnson used to say,”If you’re not getting better, you’ve gotten worst.”

 

  • Oklahoma City have the best fans in the NBA.Going to those games have been collectively my favorite live NBA experiences. I’m almost tempted to buy season tickets next year and take the train down for games.
  • Lebron is clearly the best.  If you’re in a conversation with someone and they say otherwise walk away from them immediately, just talking with them will make you dumber.
  • KD is the best scorer in the NBA, but in order to become an all around superstar he will have to get better at rebounding and defense, cut down on the turnovers.
  • “FREE RUSSELL WESTBROOK!!!” The experiment is over. Move him over to the 2-guard where he can thrive and not have as much pressure to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. He is clearly a superstar and clearly we need him, but not as a point guard. He’s a scorer, he’s a lock down defender, he’s a great rebounder. But he is not a point guard. Get a real point guard who can pass and defend, they wouldn’t have to score, just create opportunities for the other players.
  • And while Sam Presti is at it, get a big who can come off the bench and score in the paint. If he can run well off the pick and roll, even better. One of those Ron Milsap, Karl Landry type guys would be nasty.One that thing they could have used this year was a guy they could dump it down to in the paint for an easy bucket or two. It would do wonders for the sqaud to be able to get some points inside without going to Isolation, and pick and roll plays.

 

  • Getting their  ass kicked the way they did in the final game might be the best thing to happen to them. They were clearly talented than everyone else but were too inconsistent and frankly, there were really only a couple of games this post-season where they played a complete 48 minutes. But they kept winning and that reinforced bad habits and caused people to think they were better than they were.

    The best thing that could have happened was them getting exposed against the Heat

    (It’s like when a person becomes romantically involved with someone and they embark on an intense relationship. It s an opportunity to grow from the experience and see what flaws the individual needs to work on–seeing the good the bad and especially the ugly).

 

 

 

  •  Lockout years are different than normal regular seasons so I knew that the Thunder’s best chance to make it with this particular set-up was this year (If you look up fluke in the dictionary you will find a picture of the 1999 Knicks team).If they want to win a championship some minor changes will have to be made, and I’m sure Sam Presti will make them. I don’t think they are satisfied with just making it to the Finals. I think this year was just a little taste of what’s to come.

    I’m very proud of our boys and I can’t wait to see what moves are made in the off-season to bolster that lineup and see who’s gonna step up, and who’s gonna step out.If the Thunder can fix those small holes (and even if they don’t) they should be back in the Finals, in what will probably be a rematch against the Heat. Hopefully they will use the experience to better themselves.

 

 

  • Lastly, I wanna see them make a public service announcement video much like this one. “Stop Flopping!” Fo’real! This flopping has got to stop. Dwayne Wade, Lebron James. You guys are top 5 NBA players. Why do you need the refs to bail you out?If you guys are so good you wouldn’t have to whine to the officials. Fo’real. Play basketball.  I’m just hoping the officiating isn’t as big of a story for next years playoffs.

There will need to be more team play next year for OKC to bring the title down to the Sooner state.

 

Aight. I’m out. Trying to peep these free agents SON!!!!

Things that make you go………hmmm??????

26 Jun

Is it just me or is this a tad homoerotic???

Me being a Thunder fan isn’t the only reason this video makes me uncomfortable.

Observations from game 2 of the NBA Finals

15 Jun

I debated whether or not it’d be a good idea to go down to OKC and scalp a ticket. I’d already dropped a fair amount on game 6 of the Spurs game. It wasn’t going to get any better than the feeling I had when I left Chesapeake Arena last Wednesday night.

On the other hand I also knew there was no guarantee that I’d ever get to watch my favorite team in the NBA Finals. In life and especially sports there are nor guarantees. I’ve seen teams get so close to the title and think that it’d just be a matter of time before they were back for another chance at it (Dan Marino, ’98 Jets, ’93 Suns).

You just never know how small that championship window is (just ask Blazers fans). So I used my free bus voucher and went down to the OKC. I had a lot of time to kill so I went down to this basketball court down in the park downtown and played some 21. Some guy from the local news came down and took some video of us and the pickup game at the other basket ( I hope they don’t run any of the footage of me airballing 15 foot jumpers my shot was OFFFFF!!!).

After getting some work done at the library I headed to the OKC Hooters to get my wing fix. Sure enough one of the best players to come out of the University of Miami was sitting down and cooling out with this cute Betty at the table next to me. I wasn’t trying to jock him like everybody else was–taking pictures and interrupting his conversation. But I did throw up a “U” with my hands and yell out “2001 Cane’s baby!”  as I was leaving .He threw it back at me and laughed.

The stage was set for an exciting night. The media was in full effect for sure. I saw “Mr. Waxahachie” Desmond Mason in full regale and camera crews lined up all the streets. There were all kinds of banners and signs pointing the event that was the NBA Finals.

Yet still it didn’t hit me until I got into my seat (once again, there isn’t a bad seat in the house I sat in the last row in section 330 and I could still see EVERYTHING) and the introductions began. There was a video montage of past Finals champion and they showed a clip of Pat Riley (looking like Michael Douglas) in ’88 talking about the Lakers repeating. I was the only one who booed the screen.

Chills went through my body as the moment came upon me. The lights dimmed and the “Niggas in Paris” beat started. I was flooded with the memories of being 15 and watching the Bulls and Phoenix Suns player intros on television.

The crowd erupted as they introduced KD the same way the Bulls fans used to lose it when they introduced MJ (fitting in so many ways–especially since a couple analyst say that the ‘Peake is the loudest arena since old Chicago Stadium). When the PA guy said “at 6’9 from University of Texas”, I got REALLY hype and began jumping up and down–screaming like a wild man.

This was the beginning of dynasty and maybe just maybe KD’s era would be like Jordan’s was in Chicago. It got loud in that arena and it only got louder.

Bullet points from last night:

1. I truly hate the Heat franchise. They have now entered my short list of despicable sports entities. They came in wearing their all black uni’s like they owned the joint. Seemed fitting. We were the good guys and they were the villains. So it goes.

To me D-Wade is a punk ass flopper who goes down at the drop of the hat ( they were showing an all time greatest playoff layups on Sportscenter last week and one from Wade’s playoff run against the Pistons made it. He got an AND1 on it but there was no contact whatsoever. This is why people think the league is rigged. More on this later).

I don’t like Lebron. Battier though one of the smartest and fundamentally sound players in the NBA is dead to me. He came off as a real nuisance last night. Chalmers is my least favorite Jayhawk of all time (Quit crying and play basketball!!!).

I could see Mike Miller in a trailer park in Colorado somewhere making Meth with Chris “Birdman” Anderson. Chris Bosh is a buster too (Fuck Dallas Lincoln).

Haslem is an ugly motherfucker. That to me is reason enough not to like him.

I won’t even waste the space in this post to get into the other players. Fuck the Heat. I feel like you have to be a fundamental D-bag to sign with that franchise. I don’t like the ’06 Heat. I don’t like PJ Brown, Jeff Van Gundy dragging Heat teams.

I think Erik Spoelstra is a tool who spits out canned, corny ass responses. He reminds me of a newly appointed substitute teacher who has posters of Gandhi quotes in his office.

I don’t like the Heat fans (they annoy me more than Laker fans–my buddy Adrian a rare exception).

I’ll go as far as to say that I’ll never set foot inside the Miami city limits unless I were getting paid a substantial fee to do so. And fuck the state of Florida for giving us Jeb Bush, and ultimately George Bush.

2.This year’s playoff officiating was at an all time worst last night. It was a joke. It was a fucking travesty. I thought game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals was bad. I thought last night’s was equally as bad if not worse (if only because I’m a Thunder fan).

I didn’t pay 300 dollars to see the referees blow their whistles all night. The flow of the game kept getting interrupted because of the official’s interference. It’s the fucking Finals. Let the motherfuckers play!

And if you are going to call the shit, call it both ways. Had the script been flipped and that was Lebron getting hacked, they’d have for sure called it (big ups to KD for not making any excuses during the post game interview–he only would admit to missing the shot). this is what bothers me. Teams like the Lakers, the Heat (hell even Jordan’s Bull’s) don’t need the help. So either swallow the fucking whistle or call it both ways.

There were at least 5 or 6 shitty calls (or no-calls) that had the crowd incensed last night:

There was a bullshit charge call on Harden late in the game when he’d gotten mugged twice on the same possession (only seconds before the call ).

There was of course the  no call during the critical Durant possession at the end.

There was the weak ass goal tending call early on in the game that gave the Heat 2 points.

Shane Battier somehow picked up a foul when he was nowhere near the play that should have been Chris Bosh’s 2nd foul early into the first quarter.

There was a dubious offensive foul on Perkins during the fourth quarter

and a couple of ticky tack foul calls against Durant that got him on the bench early into the game.

The night seemed dangerously close to the officiating in the ’06 Heat-Mavs series, as well as game 6 of Kings-Lakers.

Which makes me wonder if what Rasheed Wallace said about the “NBA being some WWE shit” isn’t true (only makes me love that guy even more–only Sapp’s Tagliabue is a slavemaster quote feel more spot on in my opinion)?

I’m not going to go as far to call David Stern a crook, but it does make you wonder though. I am a paying customer. I have spent hundreds of dollars(and countless hours) on the NBA product. As a consumer I believe I am entitled to receive proper compensation for the time and money spent following the sport.

So if I’m not getting “the bang for my buck” then it means there is an imbalance between what I’m paying and what I am receiving.

And if David Stern knows there is a severe problem with the quality of officiating (and has been for at least ten years) then Stern is ultimately responsible for the lack of quality product on the floor. By not fixing it, either he is apart of the problem (i.e. doing some Vince MacMahon shit) or doesn’t give a shit and only cares about the bottom line ( like Phil Knight of NIKE).

Of course whenever someone yells conspiracy, respected journalists like Colin Cowherd and Mike Greenberg always say, “Why would David Stern (or Bob Arum) cheat? What would they have to gain? That would be a crime, why would they risk everything they have to do such a thing? That would be criminal and they could go to jail for fixing the draft lottery (or Pacquiao fight)”

Which is a valid argument, until you ask the same questions of every crook who got rich in this country. Come the fuck on! They act like the Kennedy family, or Rockefeller family, or Bush family, or ANY mafia head never did dirt to get where they were (and continued to do so in order to maintain that stature). Our government commits severely criminal acts every day and these guys ask the “what could be gained” question.

To quote Ed Lover, “Get tha Fuck OUTTA HERE WIT DAT BULLSHIT SON!!!!”

Which brings me to my frustration with sports. Sports is supposed to be the last vestige of fairness we have in society. It is the one place where talent rules supreme over everything else. But politics and corruption (see NCAA, MLB, NFL, FIFA, NBA,Olympics)is everywhere in sports. Normally I can ignore that shit and just concentrate on the beauty that is occurring on the court, or field. But the politics is threatening to overtake the sport.

I should be talking about how I had the chance to see Dwayne Wade, Lebron, and KD put on this incredible show of speed, power and creativity in person instead of mulling over the rumor that Dwayne Wade is 21-3 in games that Danny Crawford officiates.

And that is what frustrates me. It wasn’t just Thunder fans and players who were robbed last night. NBA fans were robbed of what could have been a fantastic finish and NBA Finals Classic moment. How bad ass would it have been to see if Durant makes those free throws and see how the heat would respond? Perhaps it’d have been an overtime classic that would be a small footnote in what could be a finals match-up?

Now we’ll never know.

With all that being said, I still thought the Thunder would do it. I’d been to nothing but victories this year and seen this before. Early deficits turned into a classic comeback victory because of clutch defense and KD’s silky smooth offensive skills.

Even with how badly we’d been playing even with all the iffy officiating, I didn’t think we could be denied. Every bad call that went against us whipped the crowd into a bloodthirsty frenzy. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, leaving it all in the rafters. Giving the boys my all because win or lose I wanted to do my part as a fan.

And when we cut to 2 points and had the ball with less than 15 seconds left and Gary Glitter’s “Rock ‘n Roll 2” was blaring, I knew it was about to be over. The Thunder were going to win and everyone whipping their T-shirts around were about to erupt when our boy KD did his thang.

But it didn’t come. The shot was off and the Heat fit their final two free throws ( I was on the other side of the court and didn’t see the foul until I got to a TV later that night). The crowd booed lustily for Danny Crawford’s head. People emptied out onto the street gnashing their teeth in frustration.

In a less civilized league/society/city I could foresee a rain of objects being tossed onto the floor as players and media alike escaped the carnage for the safety under the tunnels. I wanted blood. And I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

With all the bitching about officiating it has to be said that the Thunder didn’t play well enough to win that game. Head coaching great Jimmy Johnson used to say that, you have to play well enough where a ref’s call won’t lose the game for you.

They spotted them a 16 point lead early in the first quarter. There were missed defensive assignments as Battier destroyed it with open 3’s. Too many free throws could’ve eaten into that deficit. The inability to get those 50-50 balls and defensive rebounds hurt the team’s chances as well. Lastly there were too many bad possessions.

I thought about the night in its entirety on the way home. I wasn’t sure if I had fun. The refs’ whistles were a constant disruption. I think also the stakes of the event led to some anxiety early into the game. Having the ‘win or die’ mind frame made it difficult to enjoy on one level. But I was able  to adjust that mentality and just dig the fact that I was at Finals game, seeing my favorite team play.

What a great bookend for the season. I had the pleasure of seeing them opening night on Xmas with one of my best friends. I had been able to see them blow out the Chris Paul Clippers on a night that Obama was in town on business. I was luckily enough to have floor tickets and see Kevin Love put up a nasty line (he had 50 and 20) against the boys in  triple overtime thriller (KD had put up 40 plus points himself).

I had the pleasure of seeing the legendary Spurs get closed out the week before. Now I was attending game 2 of the Finals. I was a lucky man. I didn’t have to go to Oakland to see a Warriors game anymore. The best fans in the NBA were in OKC.  I could picture myself living in “the city” owning season tickets. What a treat that would be.

Who knows? I could just as easily see ticket prices going up (which would be justifiable if they could keep Harden and Ibaka after next year) and people getting priced out next season.

Regardless I had been a good fan and it left it all in the arena. My head was pounding and my throat felt raw, and my team had lost. But before the playoffs started I had told myself that no matter where the Thunder had placed, I was just going to enjoy the ride, and keep expectations to a minimum.

That being said, I still feel confident about the boy’s chances. They played arguably their worst game of the playoff’s, the Heat had gotten the majority of calls, KD never was able to get into a rhythm because of foul trouble, and yet still the Heat barely escaped with a four point win.

The Heat should be very afraid. They have a dog fight on their hands and it will only get harder when they come back to Oklahoma City. Whoever wins the title this year will have to earn that motherfucker. We are in for a classic one.

Geeekin out on the internet Pt. 1: All things KD

20 Apr