The connection between Thunder and the city is unique
Often we wonder about the connection between pro athletes and the cities they represent.
We know about the transient nature of the players, the “home” team is a “home” team basically during the season and until the contract runs out and there really isn’t any cosmic coming-together very often.
Which brings us to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the city they represent.
Every player who joins the Thunder is taken to the memorial to the 1995 bombing that scarred this city and for a long time defined it.
It is a solemn and respectful and, in some ways, a wonderful memorial, it pays homage to those who lost their lives in that tragic event.
I’ve been there – walked up with Sam Mitchell and a handful of others way back in the day; wandered past it during a walkabout yesterday, too – and it really is something to experience. It gives to an idea of what happened here, how it devastated a city and, in some ways, brought it together.
And when players go see it, and they must, it has to hit them hard. It seems to have had an impact on Kevin Durant, as he told us a couple of days ago.
“Being somewhere, being in a community where you're going to live here for a while, we want to know the history, everything that went down here in Oklahoma and how they moved past it.
“You can tell by what happened in those events that the city got closer and closer, and you can tell just by landing here in Oklahoma City, just meeting people in the airport, that this city is a tight-knit family.
“With us coming here, it just made it even closer. It's just a blessing to be a part of a great city even though they went through a tough tragedy.”
Now, a lot of players bolt when the season is over for much of the summer, off to their real homes or other obligations and that’s fine and dandy.
It’s how it is everywhere in every sport, the players have other homes and families and responsibilities and few anywhere are true 12-month-a-year residents in the cities they represent.
But to know there is some kind of connection between the residents and the players, and the fact the transient kids realize what they mean to a city like this is something quite unique.
And in today’s “what do you see on the streets of OKC” travelogue we have …
Yeah, I know how to pick ‘em, don’t I?
Was listening to Kevin Durant in the interview room and looked down to see Netherlands down 1-0; I think LeBron James or Erik Spoelstra drone on when I checked to find it was 2-0.
From then the day was pretty much over and the writing in the room was accompanied by the white noise of the second half of the game.
Kind of anti-climatic, wasn’t it?
But I guess it’s not all bad. As Cathal points out here, this whole Euro2012 thing has kind of been turned on its head and it’s made for some compelling stories.
I particularly like the last few paragraphs of his piece, where he talks about Canada – or North America – not having anything like it and how we’re a bit poorer off for it.
We tend to antiseptically analyze our sports events and teams too often, worried about numbers and stats and intricacies of strategy a bit too much, leaving the true passion of the games a bit too far in the background.
I guess there probably is a middle ground between some of the “passion” we’ve seen from coaches and players in Europe and the oft-dispassionate dissecting of the games we get from players and coaches over here but we haven’t found it yet.
When we do, we will have reached a watershed point in our love of games, where we can truly balance the personalities and souls we watch and the physical magic they perform on the court or the field.
Much of this afternoon is free and I need to get a lot of it out of the way.
The Oklahoma City-Atlanta-Miami trip tomorrow with a short turnaround in Atlanta is fraught with peril – I’m dead certain my bag won’t get to Miami, and am fully expecting to miss my connection as well – and I’ll want something to do.
Hey, did you watch the Dream Team thing last night? Heard it was on late in Canada and I wonder what you thought of it.
Workouts drone on; no one’s really shone more than the others and if there are Dog Days in the pre-draft process, we’re in them.
In our whole “Let’s go, Netherlands” kind of jinx (and it’s becoming something of a trademark of mine), I’ll all about Spain against the Irish today; knowing what a celebration on the streets of Dublin will be like.
Right, the NBA Finals.
Things to watch for tonight (and, yes, we’ll do another IGBT so be here around 9 p.m. East) will be to see how long the Heat have LeBron guard Durant (it’ll be longer than the last game), how aggressive Dwayne Wade is going to the basket (I have a feeling he’ll live at the free throw line) and how OKC gets everyone involved, again, until it’s time for Durant to take over in the fourth (James Harden has to be better).
I don’t think there’s any way to really guess what the outcome will be but I think for this to be on the way to being an epic series, a 2-0 OKC lead would be great. Would put all kinds of pressure on the Heat going home and, I tell you, there just seems to be some kind of daily increasing pressure on that team that’s kind of fun to watch. They know what’s at stake, they know what will be said and written if they lose and it’s going to be fun if we get to watch it all unfold.
In the hour or so it took me to type this here Thursday morning, I don’t believe a TOD starter was injured.
Guess that’s a good thing.