On Tuesday, the NBA released the 2009/10 schedule and answered many of the questions we have been asking.
When does J.J. Redick come to town?
This is the most pressing question to every true NBA fan in Oklahoma City. When will former Duke star and the guy who I would pay to watch shoot free throws grace us with his presence and dominate on the floor as he has for his entire pro career. The answer is: Sunday, November 8th. That’s the one time the Orlando Magic will play here this season. If I have my way, Sam Presti will arrange a trade the day before to keep J.J. here for the rest of the season.
When should Patrick break out his lime green tube top and blonde wig?
The answer is: Sunday, November 15th. That’s also the day all the Sooner fans, I take that back–all the Sooner fans who pay any attention whatsoever to the basketball program, will have to make the conscious decision to support the hometown team. This is the day that Blake Griffin makes his return to the Sooner state.
I hope Etan Thomas eats his lunch.
When will the Thunder get their first win of the season?
Hopefully, Wednesday, October 28th. The home opener is also the season opener, and it should be a very winnable game. With the home crowd and playing against a team that thinks Tyreke Evans is a point guard, the Thunder will hopefully get their first win of the season…okay, only five days earlier than last season’s nightmare start. I was as surprised as you when I looked it up to find out that the Thunder won their third game of the season and their second home game.
When should we know if the hype is real?
A lot of basketball experts are suggesting that the Thunder could be the surprise team of the 2009/10 season. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that this “team on the rise” might rise so quickly as to compete for a playoff spot in the stacked Western Conference as early as this upcoming season. Personally, I believe that is the result of bored basketball fanatics fantasizing for something completely out of the realm of possibility.
Whether I am right or they are right should be pretty clear by that same November 8th game that I mentioned earlier. The first six games of the season consist of:
- Sacramento in the Ford Center
- at Detroit
- Portland at home
- Lakers at home
- at Houston
- Orlando at home
While four games are at home, the schedule strength is off the charts. Two of those home games happen to be against the teams the vied for the NBA Championship last spring and another is against the previous “team on the rise” who has already risen. Then the two road games are against playoff team. Should Oklahoma City come out of this early stretch at .500 or better, they should have the confidence to do what the optimists believe they are capable of doing.
If not, this young team could have their egos crushed early and have trouble finding their footing.
When is Charles Barkley coming to town?
Not this year. Remember how I mentioned writer who claimed many in the NBA were more excited by Kevin Durant than LeBron James? You don’t have to think back too far, it was last week. Well, apparently, the people who decide what games get the television showcase were not among that group. Only one game will be on national television, the December 16th home game against Dallas, and it will be on ESPN. So that means Charles Barkley gets another year for us to forget about the way he stereotyped our city when interviewing Chris Paul during the Hornets first season here.
When will the Thunder’s franchise center return to Oklahoma City?
December 4th. Some people don’t know this, but Boston GM Danny Ainge once offered Al Jefferson (who became the centerpiece from Boston’s side in the Kevin Garnett trade) for Robert Swift when Seattle had the opportunity to draft him. The Supersonics turned the deal down. After four seasons where Swift got more tattoos than points, the Thunder let him walk this Summer. Unsurprisingly, the Celtics snatched him up for their Summer League team and I would be shocked if Ainge doesn’t give his boy-crush a minimum contract. That means, he will get to spend some time sitting the bench here on the 4th. Maybe for old time’s sake, Boston coach Doc Rivers will make him inactive for the game and he can sit on the bench in street clothes.
When will I stop complaining that Sam Presti passed on Ricky Rubio?
As it looks now, January 20th. This is the first encounter the Thunder will have with the team that actually selected Rubio, and unless something drastic happens, the Spanish point guard wizard will not be playing. Not in that game, not in any other game this season, and probably none in the next. His buyout has turned out to be unmanageable and while we can philosophically argue that things could have turned out entirely different if a team he approved of drafting him, like OKC, had taken him, it doesn’t matter.
Of course, it won’t be that I have changed my mind that Rubio will be a special player that could have lead a dynasty throwing dimes to Kevin Durant…it’ll just be that everyone will have tuned me out by this point.
When should you lock up your daughters?
November 3rd and March 26th. That’s when former rape suspect Kobe Bryant will be the talk of the town.
When will the Ford Center security checks be most important?
January 29th and April 7th. J.R. Smith and the Denver Nuggets come to town on those days. Smith was not very popular when he played for the Hornets while they were in Oklahoma City. Of course, the reason was that he was supposed to be an uber-talented player but instead of showing the fans his ability, he spent most of his time doing the cha-cha dance and ticking off his coach.
Now it looks like we should have had other reasons to dislike J.R. He made waves with his Twitter account when it became apparent that the C button on his keyboard was broken. Here are some examples:
Vegas here I kome!
Kant wait to get bak in the swing of things
I just Kame home. . . . I kouldnt have done it with out yall
As someone who follows a lot of NBA players on Twitter, I did not think much about the poor spelling and bad grammar (see the crack I made about Russell Westbrook above). Only this time, whispers started that there was a more ominous reason for Smith to replace Ks for Cs and dropping Cs when they are followed by a K. This is a typical behavior by members of the Blood gang.
On the heels of this bad publicity, Smith shut down his Twitter account with this explanation:
i’m sorry but this is my last tweet. you know why, but it is what it is.
He managed not to use any Cs there, too.