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Berry Tramel: It's all good, Thunder fans

by Berry Tramel Published: May 5, 2011

Scotty Brooks went around town Monday and was amazed at the reaction of Oklahomans.

“Everybody wanted to give me a hug,” said the Thunder coach. “I don't mind hugs, but we only lost one game.”

The Thunder's Game 1 loss to Memphis certainly seemed to send Oklahoma City into a sky-is-falling funk.

In a state accustomed to apocalyptic sporting events — college football games that determine Oklahoma's collective psyche; do-or-die NCAA Tournament games — the NBA playoffs throw us a curve.

Series basketball. Not 40 minutes, but a fortnight, to determine the superior team.

Adjustments made from game to game. Rivalries developing from scratch. Two weeks worth of ebbs and flows that build to a possible epic showdown but most definitely do not include a Game 1 Armageddon.

“I like series basketball,” said the Thunder's Russell Westbrook. “It shows how tough you are. Toughness of your team.”

Think about the culture change. High school. AAU. College. International. NBA regular season. Doesn't matter. Basketball teams play a different opponent virtually every game.

Then they get to the NBA playoffs. Same foe every other night.

And a Game 1 loss isn't catastrophic. Lose in the NCAA Tournament, and there's no tomorrow. Lose Bedlam football or the OU-Texas game, and time to whip out the sackcloth.

But the NBA playoffs? No. Regroup. Make strategic changes. Get tougher, mentally as much as physically..

Players — like the Thunder's abundance of 21- and 22-year-olds — have to learn the nuances of such basketball. And Oklahoma City fans have to learn the culture, too.

“We definitely have to teach the fans,” Brooks said with a smile. His team is growing up right before our eyes, and “the city's growing up” with the ballplayers.

Brooks, who in 1994 played on one of the three teams in NBA history (Rockets) that lost the first two games of a series at home but rallied to advance, offered a tutorial.

From memory, Brooks trotted out the results of the last five NBA champs. The Lakers in 2010 and 2009 lost seven playoff games each year. The 2008 Celtics lost 10. The 2007 Spurs lost four. The 2006 Heat lost seven. Brooks shared that info with his team.

“To win the championship, they lost a lot of games,” Brooks said. “You don't win every game. There's two teams out there trying to win the game.”

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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