Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
So it’s Cyber Monday, and that means everyone is flocking to the internet to get cheap deals on the latest stuff that they’ll never need Meanwhile, in basketball world, KD and Westbrook are both both in the process of returning from injury, and the Thunder are returning to relevancy. So there’s no better time to hop on the bandwagon and show your support by filling your house, car, and office with Thunder-related memorabilia. I mean, you could just go down to Goodwill and buy one of the Thunder shirts that are selling for $1.50, but that would require putting on shoes.
And a hat. Why not this one?
This looks as if it was made by some overachieving Boy Scout hyped up on too much Mountain Dew. Really, it’s a cheap piece of fur slapped onto a normal Thunder hat. But if you had the gall to wear it in public, everyone would know that there was probably some convoluted story behind it involving family drama. So slap on the cap and enjoy the awkward elephants in the room.
Of course, we all can’t wear caps. How about something for the women?
Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
It’s almost scary to think that it was six years ago….
Back in 2008, the Thunder were the biggest joke of the NBA. They had a roster packed with overpaid journeymen and long-forgotten prospects, mixed with a few diamonds of young talent. Oklahoma City was certainly excited to have a team to call their own, but everybody knew that the roster was far worse than what the Hornets had to offer. Pretty much everything about the Thunder, including the logo, seemed thrown together at the last minute. I mean, the in-arena entertainment re-played “Everybody Clap Your Hands” six times every game, games airing on TV were rife with technical errors, and the team was run by a coach whose most notable NBA accomplishment was getting choked by Latrell Sprewell.
Things improved quickly, though. Even in that first 23 win, 59 loss season, there were moments of glory. KD got into scoring battles with Melo, and we managed to steal a couple of games from playoff teams. By the time the winter of 2009 rolled around, the Thunder were winning regularly and OKC had fully embraced them.
For a long time, I thought the image of the Oklahoma City Thunder as a bad team would never return. That is…..until this year’s team was hit with the injury plague of the century.
As it stands, the Thunder are 1-4 over their first five games, and will likely field their weakest lineup of the year on tonight against the Grizzlies. Perry Jones was the one shining ray of hope during the first five games, as he’d picked up a few of KD’s old offensive sets and proven himself able to score. Unfortunately, PJIII hurt his knee in Tuesday’s game, effectively destroying the Thunder’s lineup for the time being. I’m expecting the Thunder to get at least another player back from injury by the time Sunday’s game rolls around. Thus, Friday night will likely be your last opportunity to tune in and watch one of the worst Oklahoma City Thunder teams you’ll ever see.
One important question remains. Are tonight’s injury plagued Thunder better than the opening night 2008 Thunder? Which team is the worst Thunder team of all-time? Let’s break it down.
Matt Pinto had enough….
In case you missed it, Regular Jim Traber and Thunder radio play-by-play guy Matt Pinto got into a little spat last night during the always awkward Thunder pre-game show on The Sports Animal.
The whole thing was weird and random. I guess they were talking about whether the injury depleted Thunder were going to sign an extra player to the roster or something, and then Traber asked Pinto his thoughts on the matter.
I’m not sure if the years of working with the most annoying radio person in the world finally took their toll, or maybe Matt Pinto just lost a dare to James Hale, but Pinto snapped and said:
“I can’t imagine I would have anything to offer of value to you, Jim. You have all the answers, which amazes me, because you’re never at practice and never talking to players or coaches as far as I can tell.”
At that point, Jim flipped out, took off his headset, and left the show.
In an effort to look like a victim, Traber replayed the tiff on today’s Afternoon Sports Beat. I recorded it live on the air. Check it out, and when you do, please ignore the incoming call that hit my MAC right as I was recording the damn thing. Technology is nice, but it can also be annoying.
It’s kind of hard to believe, but the Oklahoma City Thunder tips of their 7th (!) basketball season tonight at the Rose Garden in Portland.
Before we take a look a 10 totally serious questions facing the team to open the season, here are some totally random bold predictions that will probably be wrong:
- The team will face more injuries, Kevin Durant will only play 20 – 30 games, and they barely miss out on the playoffs.
Yikes, that’s insanely sad and negative. Screw that, how about this:
- The backups gain valuable eperience during the injury outbreak, Durant comes back healthy, the team flourishes, and then at the trade deadline Reggie Jackson and Kendrick Perkins are moved in a blockbuster deal for a veteran All Star that helps the team reach and win the the NBA Finals
Whew, that’s better. Unfortunately, it would lead to…
- The team will re-sign Scott Brooks to a four year extension…
Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
Anyway, those are just random, somewhat pessimistic predictions. I’m sharing them with you so I can “Give It Up To Myself” later. Here are the questions…
1. Who will be the the next Thunder arena emcee?
Jonathan Meisner. Joel Decker. Matt Vaughn. Those are the last three people to hold the job as Thunder arena emcee, and not coincidentally, a who’s-who list of people who either want to borrow money, deejay your next wedding, or, well, borrow more money. They are also not pedophiles.
Yes, according to a source, Matt Vaughn is not returning as Thunder emcee. That means we’re going to have a new person wear a backwards hat, stick to the script, and remind fans that if they hit the backboard or rim, Midfirst Bank will still give them $100.
Who is this new person and how will he do? Is his name Chad or Colby? Will he have fun with the job, and when someone makes the corner three in the Cox Communications three-point contest say something like “Everyone in section 305 wins a free on demand movie from Cox! I hope you use it for porn because “Cox” sucks!”
Or will he just stick to the script, show no personality, and be another lemming for the Thunder Ministry of Propaganda?
As I said, these are all burning questions.
2. Did Thundor and Thunder Princess raise enough money for season tickets?
Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
As we found out last year, getting a major star injured on your team can actually be a rewarding experience. For the 27 game stretch that Russell Westbrook was absent last year, the Thunder went a strong 20-7 amidst a MVP performance from Kevin Durant. The goings may not be as easy during Durant’s expected 15-25 game absence this year, but we’ll definitely be able to learn a lot about who we have. With three regular rotation pieces from last year (Butler, Sefolosha, and Fisher) all now out-of-town and two more rotation players in the decline of their careers (Perkins and Collison), the Thunder figure to be working in a lot of new people.
Last year, the injury did a variety of things to the team. Most importantly, it solidified Reggie Jackson as somebody who was dynamic enough to earn a starting role based on talent alone. This is good for OKC in the short-term and certainly helped us against the Grizzlies (see: game 4), but will definitely hurt us when figuring out how to pay him after this year.
Anyway, let’s get down to brass tacks. Here’s 5 bold predictions on things we’re going to learn about the Thunder thanks to Kevin Durant’s injury. Get well soon, KD.
1. Russell Westbrook is an MVP-caliber player
I know that everyone has their doubts about Westbrook’s ability to carry this team on his own. But I couldn’t be less concerned. Sure, KD has barely missed any legitimate games over the course of his career, but in those rare instances where he has missed a legitimate game, Westbrook has shined.
For example, when KD missed seven games during the Thunder’s inaugural season, Westbrook managed to lead the Thunder to a 5-2 record on his own. I know that was five years ago, but it was the same season the Thunder started 3-28 and finished 23-59.
Furthermore, Westbrook’s supporting cast of Jeff Green and a bunch of role players wasn’t exactly as impressive as the roster is today. Need more evidence? Consider that Westbrook’s 2009 win against Dirk’s Mavericks also came without Jeff Green. Also consider that Russ was able to beat Garnett’s Celtics without Durant or Green back in 2010. Russell hasn’t exactly gotten worse since then, and that he was 3 rebounds and 2 assists away from averaging a TRIPLE DOUBLE during last year’s playoffs can’t be ignored.
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