As far as teams that Thunder fans probably already know to hate, the Memphis Grizzlies are pretty high on the list. The epic seven game Western Conference semi-final from last season cemented them as a rival. Then if history wasn’t enough, the Grizz came into the Peake on Monday and killed the buzz Oklahoma City was feeling during the Thunder’s six game winning streak that included wins over the Clippers, Heat, Lakers, and Bulls who are all high in the standings.
Media pundits who have been hemming and hawing over the Thunder’s chances at winning a title were suddenly hustling to move OKC up to the top of their “power rankings.” Then, Memphis who is fighting just to secure a playoff spot ends the run in a game at the Thunderdome. That was enough to make me hate the team irrationally. But here are some rational reasons:
Zach Randolph’s fat face
It actually has less to do with Randolph’s face being fat (although, come on, he’s being paid $15.2MM this year for his athletic ability, shouldn’t he take care of his, you know, athleticism) as what’s on that fat face. While he goes around manhandling opposing forwards with his manboobs, Randolph acts like referees are always screwing him. Let’s see, Zach, they let you get away with bull rushing a rebounder with position on you into the stands, but we are supposed to feel sorry for how they persecute you when they don’t call a foul simply because you missed your fade away jump shot.
The implication that Memphis is like Oklahoma City
During last season’s playoffs, the commentators raved about how the Memphis crowd gave the Grizzlies such a home court advantage. Like Oklahoma City, they suggested, this was a small market team whose fans adored them. Of course, they left out that Memphis fans didn’t start showing up to watch the team play until they shocked the Spurs in the first round. Then, suddenly, they were diehard fans. Who died really hard. The Grizz currently rank 22nd in the league in attendance where they average an 85% full arena. They actually draw better on the road.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s arena is averaging a sell out for the second straight season.
Personally, I have a soft spot for Tony Allen because he led the OSU Cowboys to a Final Four appearance. (OSU used to be good at basketball, true story.) When he plays against the Thunder, though, there is not a player I like less. He isn’t a very good shooter, but he always seems to knock down a bunch of shots against OKC. On defense, he’s everywhere. And by “everywhere” I mean wherever Kevin Durant is standing. He’s so attached to Durant, it seems like Allen has slipped inside his jersey. It’s really frustrating since I want to see the best offensive player in the league show off for my team.
Also, Tony Allen is certifiably insane:
As much as I hate Russell Westbrook shooting three-pointers, I love his celebration after making one. You know who else likes it? Memphis Grizzlies sixth man O.J. Mayo who holstered his three-point guns after nailing a crucial three on Monday. That was definitely intended as disrespect to, if not Thunder fans as a whole, Russell. Hopefully Thunder fans will not forget this taunt.