Out here on the prairie, on the NBA frontier, we like to claim a chip on the shoulder. Like to play the disrespect card.
But it doesn't wash. Not at this time. Not with this Thunder team.
The Thunder and the Heat will play on Christmas Day (ABC) and on Valentine's Day (TNT) and, heck, who knows, maybe even Father's Day again, next June.
You get the feeling the NBA would schedule Thunder-Heat on Armistice Day, St. Patrick's Day and National Plumbers Day (yep, there is one) if the league could get away with it.
The NBA Finals were sufficiently entertaining – four riveting games before Miami's closing blowout -- to leave pro basketball wanting more. Not just more Thunder-Heat. More Thunder in general.
The Thunder has the league-maximum 25 nationally televised games. Ten on TNT. Ten on ESPN. Five on ABC. That matches the Heat and the Knickerbockers for the NBA high. The Heat are must-see TV because Miami has the world's best team and world's best player; the Knicks because, as Batman keeps proving, millions will flock to watch Gotham City burn.
The Thunder will be nationally televised more often than the Lakers (24), and every Laker game since the explosion of cable seems to be nationally-televised. The Thunder will be nationally televised more often than the Celtics (19) or the Bulls (19) or the Spurs (16).
The annual release of the NBA schedule has become affirmation of what we think we know but aren't always sure that basketball's bluebloods have figured out, too. That this Thunder is the height of hoops entertainment.
Young, vibrant stars who fly through the air with the greatest of ease and play wildly enthralling games.
Quite a turnaround from four years ago. Remember in summer 2008, when the NBA schedule came out? We were all aquiver that the Thunder got one nationally televised game.
Turns out that one showcase was the ultimate disaster -- a 25-point November loss to the Hornets, which so exasperated the Boomer brass that coach P.J. Carlesimo was fired before leaving the Ford Center.
The next season, 2009-10, the Thunder's breakout year, only one OKC game was nationally televised. Which still trumps the respect shown Toronto, Sacramento and Charlotte in the 2012-13 season. All three are scheduled for zero appearances.
Now the Thunder's national TV appearances are rising like its payroll: 15 in 2010-11, 17 in 2011-12 and the max 25 in 2012-13.
The Thunder has brought the spotlight to OKC. Two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook's meteoric ascension. James Harden's beard. Serge Ibaka's story. Four Olympians, plus even a villain in Kendrick Perkins, if that's your style.
We long ago realized we couldn't take our eyes off these guys, and the NBA schedule reminds us that American basketball fans feel the same way.
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.