Emails in on Thunder-Lakers
Tony: “It appears like the Lakers are moving in slow motion compared to the Thunder. What’s up with Kobe? I can’t believe he just got up and let the bench while his team was still playing, not a good sign of a leader. I guess with Kobe it’s all about him; if he’s not the main attraction he has to get up and leave so people will still notice. The TV sports announcer said he had to get his knees iced down. Looks to me like that is something that can be done while sitting on the bench while still supporting your team.”
Oh, I can buy the Kobe ice deal. When you wave the white flag, you wave the white flag. Go get ready for Game 5. But the first point is fascinating. I agree; the Lakers look like they’re in slow motion. This entire series has been about age. That was a negative going in for the Thunder, but it has become a positive. The Thunder’s youth has been turned into plus.
Dan: “I expect you to eat a little crow since you picked the Boomers (your word) to lose in four. Your cynicism is getting repulsive.”
When in doubt, I say fry it. Everything from calamari to okra is danged good fried. No reason crow shouldn’t follow suit.
Trent: “I respect your opinion and like yourself I’m working extremely hard while being handed nothing in life. When writing about the Thunder, can you ease up on the bias towards youth? The Lakers in four pick and constantly harping on the lack of experience, Durant is scoring too much too young, the article of reverence towards how hard Kobe works at an advanced age. Like I said, I work extremely hard for everything I have and most likely will have. I’ve learned not to resent those that work just as hard but success seems to come more natural. Because of the Boomers, you are a national columnist that has more opportunities to be a guest expert. Try to look at the positive. I enjoy your columns except for this bias.”
Who said I was working hard? I’m on the back porch, sipping mint juleps, watching the gardeners manicure the croquet court. Like I said, age is the overriding theme of this series. It has shifted from a negative to a positive for the Thunder, but it remains the overriding theme. As for my bias, that strikes me as a peculiar word use. Durant scoring too much? That’s not an accurate description of what I wrote. What I said was, I didn’t want to see emphasis on individual records, which the Thunder clearly fell into there during Durant’s streak. And I didn’t say one word about how hard Kobe was working. I said he was old. If you think he’s working hard, that’s on you.
Bob: “I was listening to an ESPN national show and the sportscaster said it was time to drop the nicknames. Superstars go by their first name only: Michael, Kareem, Kobe, LeBron, Magic or Ervin. I am sure you can extend this list.”
I’m not extending the list. I’m contracting the list. What’s next? Take away cotton candy from the concession stand? It’s not even true. Oscar was the Big O. Wilt was the Big Dipper and Wilt the Stilt. Magic was Magic. His nickname became his name. I love nicknames. I’m not crazy about KD, and I like Durantulas for the team better than Durantula for the ballplayer. But no way will I take to calling him Kevin.
Tom: “I agree with the Kobe article, but I almost wish the article was published after the series. It is still good article. I guess I am just a little suspicious about bulletin board material at any level. Sometimes it comes back and bites like heck.”
Turns out Kobe’s not a regular reader of The Oklahoman or newsok. Either that, or he’s got the good sense to believe what he reads. Looks like my column had the opposite effect. He didn’t even take a shot the first 15 minutes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about the economy.
Jim: “I was in Tulsa for a networking event on Thursday night and missed the game. I got back to my hotel room at halftime of the Thunder game and watched the broadcast of the second half on. The crowd was beyond awesome, even on TV. Beyond the OKC victory, the best part was the post-game breakdown on TNT with Barkley, Kenny Smith and the gang. Kenny Smith said that within three years Kevin Durant would be the best player in the NBA. Chris Webber, also on the panel, made him repeat the statement. Barkley’s jaw dropped and then he said. ‘LeBron is rolling over in his grave.’ I just howled. What a great comeback. The good news for me is that I get to go to Saturday night’s game, courtesy of my mother in-law.”
It’s possible you’ve got the mother-in-law of the year. How about this. How about we post a no-bashing-your-mother-in-law zone? I had a fabulous mother-in-law; cancer claimed her 25 years ago. All kinds of people we can rip. Let’s honor our mothers-in-law.
Jeremy: “Are the NBA playoffs over YET? What a nightmare for me. I can’t even enjoy watching the national media ignore the miniscule importance of last night’s cute little game at the Ford Center (where it could barely muster third-tier importance behind the NFL draft and the Cavaliers losing) because all they want to talk about is Tim Tebow. Welcome to my sports apocalypse.”
All kinds of NBA-haters still around, but I tell you, you’re trying to stop a water wave. No chance. My mom, who has never cared one hoot about the NBA, watched the game Saturday night. A 70something man in my church stayed up to the very end of Game 2, the one that ended at 12:33 a.m. Oklahoma time. The Thunder is building a wide fan base.
Donna, the wife of the late Jim Koch, who coached Alvan Adams and the great 1972 Putnam City High team, wrote: “It’s been an exciting week. Loved your columns. Keep it up. Maybe the OKC Thunder will come out on top. Don’t you just love it when they slap down those blocked shots? Wish Coach Jim was here to enjoy all this.
Thanks, Donna. You made a great point. This great ride provided the Thunder is not just a monument to Presti/Brooks/Durant etc. Not just a tribute to the great college hoops tradition. This basketball frenzy is partly the work of all the great coaches from decade after decade who helped build basketball interest.
Carl had two beefs: “1. If you happen to bump into any of the dubious folks from ESPN or TNT, could you gracefully remind them that we are not Oak City? It’s either OKC or Oklahoma City. That’s their only choices. 2. Did you see the Laker fan with the sign that read ‘Seattle Got Robbed!’ I would love to see someone tonight with a sign that reads ‘Minneapolis Got Robbed!’”
I’ll give you one of the gripes. I’ll give you No. 2. If you want the Laker-Thunder series in Seattle, you’ve got to want it in Minneapolis, too. But No. 1, who cares. Oak City. OKC. Whatever. Our late publisher, Edward Gaylord, didn’t care for the OKC term. So we rarely used it. Now it’s become really popular. Those things don’t matter. The only problem is if you raise a ruckus. When Cal State-Northridge used to come to the Women’s College World Series, its officials would lecture everyone on what to call their school. Made them seem awfully pompous.
Dustin: “I disagreed with your statement that Jeff Green ‘isn’t really a 3-point shooter.’ This season he’s shooting 33% (which isn’t great) but last season he shot 39% from three on 247 attempts. He’s already shown he can shoot the ball, and I believe he can get back to his 2009 shooting percentage. In the meantime if Green is open from three, he should shoot the ball.”
I’m not so sure. You’re right, Green was solid last season. But now he’s shooting too much; 247 last year, 312 this season. That’s too many for a guy making a third of his 3-pointers. Green is occasionally solid as a spot-up 3-point marksman, but he’s much more effective driving the ball, and he’s not driving nearly enough.
James: “I liked your article today, very good except one part: ‘No way is the Thunder going to win this playoff series.’ I can’t believe you don’t give the Thunder even a small chance. Everyone knows they aren’t the favorite, but statements like yours zap enthusiasm from the fans like me (and then made me mad enough to write you). Kooky things happen, you know, Bryant or Gasol or Bynum could get re-injured or the Thunder could catch fire from the perimeter, Durant could go to the foul line 20 times a game in OKC, etc. or the Thunder could just simply play better than the Lakers.”
James wrote this Wednesday morning. He certainly looks even better now. Doesn’t seem like I zapped much enthusiasm. It’s like going to Vegas. You know you’re not winning the jackpot, but you still hold out hope. I still don’t think the Thunder will win. It’s a best-of-three series, with two games in LA. Tough, tough assignment. So far, the home team has won every game. The Thunder has been the surprise team in these NBA playoffs. But if they win this series, they will lap their surprise status to this point.
Jim: “I am not much of a pro basketball fan, but as I watch a little of the playoffs, I am more convinced that the players could care less what the coaches say during the game. All that writing up plays on their little boards mean nothing, and the speeches they give during timeouts, give me a break, I heard better talks in high school. Only thing the coach is good for during the game is substituting players and hollering at the refs. And why do they need a zillion assistants sitting there? If they want to keep up with fouls, they need one guy.”
The assistant coaches do their jobs on off days, with practices and scouting reports, etc. And generally speaking, Jim’s quite cynical. But he’s got a point. Some teams and players DON’T listen to their coach much. That’s what makes the Thunder so different.
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