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How the OKC Thunder became 'our boys'

Berry Tramel: Maternal instincts kicked in during the Thunder's playoff run.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 29, 2012

After every Thunder loss in the NBA Finals, the response from fans often was along gender lines.

Men wanted to critique the game; some even popped us for not being hard enough on the Thunder, from Scotty Brooks to Kendrick Perkins. Women wanted to tan our hides because we were so rough on their boys.

Everyone, of course, wanted to gripe about officiating. Man, woman, vegetable, mineral. But the gender difference was stark.

After our Game 3 headline — “Young & Reckless,” a knockoff of “The Young & the Restless” — we got lots of complaints. Virtually all of them from women.

After my Game 5 column, in which I thanked the Heat for giving the Thunder a much-needed Finals lesson that will pay off in the future, again, the women came out in force. Two examples:

A woman named Kathy emailed me and said: “I assume you have taken writing classes and know what offensive language is, therefore I will regard your disgusting choice as deliberate. Shame on you for the use of ‘snot.' (I said the Heat beat the snot out of the Thunder, an old '70s term, which could not be more true.) I'm certain you could have found a less childish way to make your point. But then again, perhaps not.

“I observed your ‘performance' at the post-game press conference last evening, equally crass and actually quite antagonistic. (You can look those words up, if you have the need and, of course, a dictionary). My message to the editor will be that he needs to find a replacement sports columnist who can balance reporting on the local NBA team objectively and some degree of loyalty…”

Thanks, Kathy. Sounds like you don't want objective, sounds like you want subjective. And actually, the ultimate editor at our paper is a woman, if that makes a difference.

Thanks to the power of NBA efficiency, we have the official transcript of my questions at the press conference. Here they are verbatim:

1. To Scotty Brooks: “It looked like offensively you got a little panicky, a little sloppy, doing things you don't normally do, silly dribbles and forcing things. Is that something you can sort of learn from if you're back here next year? Guys can sort of look back and say, hey, remember how we played, we can't do that anymore?”

2. “Kevin, can you talk about the way you lost tonight? Every game had been such a good game. A blowout tonight, is this the kind of game that can linger, maybe even in a good way, sort of gnaw at you in the offseason, make you do anything differently to get back here?”

So you be the judge if I was crass and antagonistic.

I also received a voice mail from a female reader: “Mr. Tramel, I am just reading the paper about our loss to the Heat in Miami, and I think your remarks are completely unprofessional. ‘Thank you, Miami Heat; you beat the snot out of Oklahoma City. And that's a good lesson.' Where are you coming from?...”

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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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