Over the years, one of the largest and most consistent cheerleaders of the Oklahoma City Thunder has been The Oklahoman. Their coverage of the team is so soft and kind-hearted that you’d think they were major sponsors of the team, or that Clay Bennett’s family once owned and still has close ties to the paper. You know, something that would really prevent the paper from being fair and honest.
Well, that all changed this morning. The State’s Most Trusted News shocked the Thunder Universe when they put this on the front page of their Thunder Extra:
When I first saw the headline, I thought I was dreaming. The only time The Oklahoman is critical of the Thunder is whenever the team wants the paper to paint an elite All Star as a selfish, poor character, playboy because they’re too cheap to pay him. Who cares that the headline is ridiculous and inaccurate. Kudos to The Oklahoman for showing some balls! Send Berry Tramel to piss in front of Chesapeake Arena like he’s the Champion of Meereen.
But then my opinion changed.
After looking through twitter, it seemed like Sports Editor Mike Sherman was enjoying the reaction and uproar a little too much. He retweeted this pandering photo from News 9 and engaged with everyone who questioned the headline. Was this genuine criticism from the paper or just a stunt to troll for publicity?
Well, it turns out it was neither. It was just the Oklahoman being the Oklahoman and screwing something up. They issued this retraction earlier today:
We take great pride in our headlines about big sporting events and news in Oklahoma. Thursday’s headline in The Oklahoman on Kevin Durant’s performance in the Memphis series missed the mark.
The words were overstated and unduly harsh. The headline and presentation left the impression that we were commenting on Durant’s season, career or even character. We were not. We were referring only to the Memphis series.
The fact the headline and presentation left that impression with so many readers is proof that we failed.
Water is wet, the sky is blue and The Oklahoman is back to being the Thunder’s bitch. All is right with the world, I guess.
My favorite part of the retraction is how they credit the “readers” for showing them the error in their headline ways. Yeah right. Since when did The Oklahoman care what their readers think? Their main mission is to appease their friends and supporters. In the time it takes Serge Ibaka to shoot a couple of free throws, I bet Clay Bennett got Oklahoman Publisher Chris Reen on the phone and called him every bad name in the book. That’s how retractions and apologies get published in Oklahoma.
Of course, The Oklahoman couldn’t embarrass themselves without trying to get a couple thousand pageviews out of the deal. The sent their click bait reporter Eric Horn to round up all the tweets where people complained about the headline:
None too many were happy with the headline of the Thursday Thunder Extra section.
Our take: The headline is about the context, not the character of the man or the full scope of what Durant has done in this MVP season. Kevin Durant’s season (and career) has been as reliable as any in history. It’s the Memphis series we’re talking about.
It’s fair to criticize. Here’s a sample of what you thought, good, bad and in between.
(At this point, Erik embeds about 30 tweets that were critical of the paper.)
Anyway, hopefully this headline inspires Kevin Durant to actually play like Kevin Durant tonight and make clutch shots and free throws. That, is of course, if Russell Westbrook decides to throw him the ball. I’m not holding my breath.
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