Emails in on Thunder-Lakers
The new emails are in, and lots of talk about the Thunder.
Carolyn: “Just curious why Harden didn’t play more last night? Maybe no one asked Brooks that question.”
Excellent question, and you’re right. As far as I know, Brooks wasn’t asked. Here’s what I know. The Lakers are not a great matchup for Harden, because he really can’t handle Kobe, and the Thunder actually has several guys who can at least put up a fight against Kobe. Also, Brooks went big from time to time last night, which will put Harden on the bench every time.
Michael: “This is from a perennial Lakers fan. You Thunder guys rock. I kept waiting for the Lakers to put you guys away, and we never did. Instead we found ourselves behind with a few seconds left, depending on Kobe’s magical shooting once again to pull it out. Surprise, his off balance fadeaway missed, and only because Pau was under that basket and this time successful did we take the game. Hey, often he misses at that range. The OKC fans were out of this world. I was totally impressed, and your column was terrific. Very nicely done and very classy. The Thunder will be a force next season for sure. So congratulations for such a valiant fight from a young team.”
You want to know the truth? The majority of sports fans are classy. Philadelphia, LSU, doesn’t matter. But a few spoil the reputation of the many.
Robert, a Laker fan from Sherman Oaks, Calif., emailed me after LA’s Game 5 romp: “The Thunder proved last night what we in LA knew along: they are, at best, a good sparring partner. In that sense, thanks for giving our champions a good sweat and work out these past couple weeks, but time you return to your day jobs. Kobe versus Kevin? Scotty Brooks versus Phil Jackson? Please. As John McEnroe would say, ‘You can’t be serious.’ Your team, like your town, can’t match up with us. LA is to OKC what OKC is to, say, Enid. Get it? Sure, on a given Saturday night, the old pickup truck may roar nicely down by the gas and sip, but really, the mazurrati will kick its behind every time if it’s a two-week, back and forth race, covering a few thousand miles. Like tourists, we enjoyed your visits, but best you return to your proper place. I’d wear black Friday night, not white, because you’ll be attending the Thunder’s funeral. Thanks for the nice warm up act, enjoy the summer down on the range, and be sure to come on by again for a visit soon.”
Here’s what’s interesting; 15 million in Southern California, and this joker is a lonely heart. So without companionship that when his ballclub wins a big game, he has no one to celebrate with. He has to seek out strangers two time zones away and instigate some kind of confrontation. I feel for the guy. And I want to help him. He needs some pen pals. I recommend the good folks from Oklahoma write him. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>.
Roger: “Like most MLB fans, I: have developed a pretty good feel for the key player hitting stats like batting average, slugging percentage and on-base average. For example, a .300 batting average is very good. Below .250 is pretty bad and above .350 is great. A batting average of .260 or .270 is probably typical for most position players. But what might be equivalent percentages for NBA starters? What field-goal percentage on 3-point shots would be equivalent to a .300 hitter in baseball?”
Excellent question, because while power numbers have mushroomed, a .300 average has remained pretty steady. Anyway, 131 players shot at least two 3 – pointers per game. Of those 131, 17 made at least 40 percent. So anything above .400 is outstanding. And the high .300s – .380s, .390s – is very good, too.
Tim, a big Washington State fan, chimed in on fellow alum Kyle Weaver: “There have been a number of occasions when I have wondered, why not Weaver as our charges seek spark on offense or fresh energy on defense. Consider this rip from the Tulsa 66ers web site: ‘Weaver has seen action in four games (all starts) in the playoffs, averaging 24.0 points on 51.7% shooting from the field and 57.1% from three-point range, 6.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.50 blocks in 40.5 minutes per game.’ Granted, the Iowa Energy is (are? Down with singular team nicknames!) not the L.A. Lakers, but here’s a guy who is in shape, in rhythm and on fire. And he presumably would be granted the open looks now afforded to the likes of Sefalosha. Oh, yes – and all Weaver has ever done is win. Go Cougs! When I was a young lad, a team named the Sonics had a beloved fan favorite named Downtown Fred Brown (who, by the time they finally made it to the very top, was a most valuable and wily veteran). Look back, particularly at that guy, because this fan has visions of Freddie every time he sees …. James Harden.”
You know, Darnell Mayberry thought we might see Weaver as early as Game 2. But his problem is his strength is defense; and so is Sefolosha’s. I don’t think the Thunder believes in Weaver’s offense any more than it believes in Thabo’s. And Sefolosha wins the defensive debate. I do agree that Harden will be a great sixth man, and if he’s as potent as Downtown Freddie Brown, he’s headed for a great career.
Craig attended Game 2 in LA and was not happy with the treatment of Thunder fans: “No other way to say it than we were really singled out and treated badly. Since our seats were on the court, we were literally a couple of steps from the barrier they set up after the game for the players to exit, like they do at the Ford Center. They told me not to even approach the barrier so I could clap our team off the court. So, I stood back about five feet and tried to get to show them my appreciation. I was threatened for standing a total of four times in the first five minutes of the game. I stood for a combined grand total of seven seconds! Meanwhile, during this same time, the Lakers fans stand eight times and several were extended applauses. Same rules don’t apply. Incredibly, while I was being lectured by the Staples Center usher, (I was sitting and the usher came over, kneeled down to not obstruct views while lecturing me) the women directly behind me where standing and cheering. I was told I could only ‘stand with the group.’ That would be like telling a Nebraska fan attending an OU football game in Norman, they could only stand when the OU fans stood. Two males tossed beer on my friend, and I mean a full beer. I will never again go to a game in the Staples Center.”
This reminds me of a history professor who had an interesting take on police forces. He called them hired guns. Said they were no different than Old West gunfighters hired to protect the range, that they were hired to protect taxpayers’ property. Sounds like the Staples Center ushers are hired guns. Not there to mete out justice. There to serve the purpose of the local constituency.
Beth was not pleased with Mike Baldwin’s report card from Game 5. So of course, she emailed me: “What coaching, athletic participation or teaching expertise does Mike Baldwin have to be able to pronounce failing grades on NBA teams? His report card reminds me of the bully on the block. If the Thunder is strong, accolades abound. If they have a lousy game, then kick them when they are down. In all fairness, we need the pros, cons, and solutions as the sports writers see them, but doesn’t this take it too far? Here’s how I see it. Oklahoma is not California. Oklahoma has a different outlook on winning than California. This Thunder team is playing basketball as it was intended to be played, not as the playoff mentality dictates. Someday in the future this young team may reach the top in the in the NBA playoffs, and I hope it is done through intelligence, talent and determination rather than brute force and underhanded maturity where anything goes. So here’s how one Oklahoman’s repot card goes. Coach Scott Brooks and his staff: A+. The Thunder: A+. OK, I’ve gone overboard again. Thanks for letting me rant. I am just extremely proud of quality when I see it.”
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