One reader stood out among the avalanche of responses to the Thunder's Game 3 loss in Los Angeles, centered mostly on officiating and a little on coaching snafus.
But this trusty fan found sea among the sand. A rose among the thorns. Oh, well, he said. This gives the Thunder the chance to close out at home.
And so we arrive Monday night at Chesapeake Arena, where the Lakers will fight for their season and the Thunder hopes to ignite a celebration worthy of the street party outside on Reno.
Should the Thunder take out the Lakers, streamers will fall, and fans will roar, and long, tall basketball players will hug like it's V-J Day.
All will be justified. Beating the Lakers is no small accomplishment.
Beat the Lakers, and you've beaten more than Kobe Bryant's will and Andrew Bynum's unmatched size/skill combo and Metta World Chaos' villainy and the Laker Girls' glamour and the LA market's money.
Beat the Lakers, and you've slain something most powerful in American sport. Divine right. The idea that certain organizations — the Yankees, the Lakers, a dozen college football monsters, a few college hoop squads — are destined to always win. The notion you can see everywhere from Jack Nicholson's fandom to the Laker roster, which always commands multiple superstars.
“They're one of the top franchises in all sports,” said Scotty Brooks. “They do a great job competing every year. They always seem to be at a high level.”
The Thunder is the better team. Of that there is no doubt. But that doesn't mean closing out the Lakers is easy. Heck, the last three games have proved that. After a Game 1 blowout, Thunder-Lakers has been a series of mosh-pit basketball. Both teams fighting for an inch of air space; the Thunder is up 3-1 not because of a player or two but because of a play or two, here or there.
“To beat the Lakers, you have to play well,” Brooks said. “To beat 'em, you have to do a lot of things well. You have to prevent them from doing things well. They're a great team, a great organization.
“We know we have a big challenge ahead to close out a team. Nobody wants to go home early. We know the Lakers are a championship-level team. They're not just going to give us game four. We have to win game No. 4.
“We know it's always tough to close out a team, especially a team with championship DNA. A guy with Kobe on their team is not going to give up.”
Which is why everyone in Thunder blue — players, brass, ticket-takers, T-shirt wearers, TV watchers — should cherish a series victory, should it come.
Beating the Lakers never is easy. And that talent advantage the Thunder current has? No assurance it will last. The Thunder looks loaded for years to come, but remember that divine right. The Lakers retool quickly.
Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Shaq or Pau Gasol falls out of the sky, and suddenly LA is Titletown again.
Whether we want to admit it or not, the Lakers are special. Playing the Lakers night after night in a playoff series is different from playing the Nuggets or Grizzlies or Mavericks, who also have memorably square danced with the Thunder these last two post-seasons.
Playing the Lakers two years ago jettisoned the Thunder rise. Remember when the Thunder got rooked out of that late-season game at Utah — the NBA apologized for an officiating blunder — and fell to the eighth seed? Thunder chairman Clay Bennett was pleased. Take on the Lakers, he proclaimed.
And it was the best thing that could have happened. The Thunder stood tall against a Laker team that went on to the NBA title. Russell Westbrook emerged as a star. Serge Ibaka emerged as a force.
Fast forward to Saturday night. Westbrook scored 37 points and willed the Thunder back to contention. Ibaka had five blocked shots, 14 points and five hard fouls on the Laker giants. The Lakers are shooting with one eye on the basket and one eye searching for Air Congo.
The Lakers helped these guys grow up fast, and now they're on the verge of taking out the same Lakers.
If it happens, enjoy it. Nights like this don't come around often.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.