Kevin Durant sat in Thunder headquarters Thursday, about 14 hours after the end of his season, and declared that it would be OK with him if we started next season right now.
“I know it sounds crazy,” Durant said, “but I'm ready to get back to work already for next year.”
Where do we all sign up?
The Thunder's wondrous ride to the Western Conference Finals ended with a double thud. Defeat at the hands of the Mavericks, followed by fear of the unknown.
After the Miami-Dallas Finals and the June 23 draft, no one knows when NBA basketball will return. Labor negotiations appear to be going nowhere fast, a July 1 lockout is virtually assured and the chances of an on-time start to next season seem slim.
“Seems like a deadline is what makes people negotiate,” Nick Collison said.
He's right, of course. The NFL is Exhibit A. Rather than sit down and talk it out, football's players and owners would rather lawyer up and dance in the courts. Would rather call each other names in the media, where we are glad to report whatever they say.
Will we have pro football come September? Will we have pro basketball come November? There is no reason for optimism.
What a drag on Thunder momentum. The city and the state has gone crazy over the Durantulas. The still-ridiculously-young Thunder might be the West favorite next season. And yet NBA arenas, most notably ours, could be dark for who knows how long, even after hoops season has arrived.
Bad for business and bad for basketball. Just when you teach Oklahomans they can't live without the NBA, you offer them a chance to do exactly that.
The last NBA work stoppage came in 1998-99, when play resumed in February, tipping off a 50-game season for each team. Anyone interested in waiting until February to see Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka play again?
“Hopefully we'll have a season at the regular time,” Durant said. “Kind of tough to figure out. I just don't know. It's up in the air. But I have confidence we can get something going.”
More youthful exuberance from the Thunder. Never seems to run out, whether the Boomers are off on a fast break or talking collective bargaining.
“It's tough going into an offseason not knowing,” said Thabo Sefolosha. “At the same time, I'm pretty optimistic we'll figure it out. Hopefully won't be locked out too long.”
Frankly, some places could use a regular-season reprieve. A shortened season would be perfect for the Lakers and Spurs and Celtics, older teams that seemed haggard by the playoffs. In basketball-destitute cities like Detroit and Minneapolis, a lockout might go unnoticed.
But in Miami, Year 2 of LeBron? In Dallas, coming off, at worst, its second West title ever? In Orlando, for what could be Dwight Howard's final year in the kingdom? In Chicago, where homegrown Derrick Rose holds court? In Memphis, where after 10 years in town the Grizzlies have been discovered?
In Oklahoma City, where watching the Thunder 99 nights a year quickly became standard operating procedure?
Say it ain't so. A season we wish could start early appears to be dead set on starting late, if at all.
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 AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.