Friday, November 28, 2008
On the plus side the Thunder Boomers are totally improving, but then again so are the 11-year-olds at the YMCA that play in yellow t-shirts on carpeted basketball courts. It seems pretty logical to assume that any given team with any given group of players will most likely get better if allowed to play and practice together for an 82-game season. I guess the hard part is improving relative to other NBA teams.
But I'm sure we are, even though we just lost to the only team we've beaten so far this year. And despite the fact that last year in Seattle we were 5-16, and we're currently 1-16. Improving, yeah, that's it.
Remember Thunders, the fans don't care if you win or lose as long as you tried your very best. The NBA is all about having fun, making friends and learning about teamwork while getting paid millions and millions of dollars. It's pretty much like Boys & Girls Club basketball except your parents get charged $80 to sit in the stands.
Here are some action shots I took from courtside tonight:
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Last night the Thunder cruised to an easy moral victory against the Suns. They were up by 13 at the half, and held a 16-point advantage late in the third. It was enough for Berry Tramel to dub the game "Re-Opening night" and declare the NBA had finally returned to OKC. "Mark it down", he said. Yes, I'll be sure to go sharpie that into my Big Book of Meaningless Statements. It was almost as if they didn't implode down the stretch and lose their 12th straight game.
But who gives a shit really, as long as they learned a "valuable lesson". The Thunder is racking up life lessons like the 7th graders at Degrassi Junior High. They had finally returned to their glory days of getting beat by less-than-totally-humiliating margins, and everyone was buzzing about positives and takeaways and improvement.
And then we played Cleveland.
Not even Darnell Mayberry dared spin this one in a positive light, calling it "a new low" for Thunder basketball. The Cavs started the game on a 13-0 run and lead 66-32 at halftime, their biggest halftime lead in franchise history. They eventually extended their lead to as many as 42 at in the second half, most of which was done by the Cavs' second and third units. The vaunted Thunder defense allowed the Cavs to shoot 60.8% from the floor while the 'Der shot an abysmal 35.4%, a season-low. But at least we got to watch Lebron, right? Yeah, for a career-low 17 minutes.
And none of that even rivaled the best moment of the night, which came during a halftime skit in which various fans said what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here's Darnell's take from the Thunder live blog:
"First up was a kid who said I’m thankful for the opportunity to give LeBron James a high five. He proceeds to walk over to the Cavs huddle before being chased down by the Cavs mascot. The crowd boos for not letting the kid high five LeBron.I think that young man learned the true meaning of Thanksgiving tonight. Either that or he's pissed he finally gets to go to a Cavs game and LeBron only plays 17 minutes. Thanks, Thunder.
The next guy, an adult, says he’s thankful for the Cavalier Girls. The crowd cheers.
Then, a kid says, "I'm thankful I don't have to watch the Thunder every night."
Monday, November 24, 2008
— Thunder guard Damien Wilkins on the team’s 1-13 start.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
ESPN has a rather harsh assessment of PJ's sudden exit from the Thundertown Boomers.
Chris Sheridan says some crazy stuff like “haven’t even been competitive”, "Fans booed the team", “best young players aren’t developing the way they should”, “humiliated on national TV", “not even competitive”, “just 12 games into a new season in a
PJ Carlesimo is an honorable bearded-American and should be remembered as such. That's why I took the liberty of crafting a more appropriate tribute video for PJ's 13-game OKC journey. Many a treasured memory from the man Adrian Wojnarowski will fondly remember as an "unrepentent screamer."
Berry Tramel calls the Hornets "a team Oklahoma City would sell it's soul for." Can't argue with that.
The Thunder just played back-to-back games against OKC's "first love" and "old flame" etc, etc. The team OKC actually wanted.
Extending this analogy, I'd say the Hornets are like that underrated girl in high school that went through a really rough patch at home and started acting out and slumming with some dude who really shouldn't have had a realistic shot at her. But then she eventually got things turned around and went off to college and stopped returning his calls. Now he just stalks her on Facebook. Meanwhile the dude kept hanging out at high school parties after graduation trying to bang chicks from the drill team. Eventually he found someone but she's pretty young and they don't really have all that much in common or anything to talk about, so mostly he just spends his time watching college football. And everyone keeps comparing him to her ex-boyfriend. I guess she's pretty decent looking. She's like a 7, but she's one of those girls that wears a lot of make-up and Tiffany's jewelry, so whatever. Plus now that they're engaged she sort of stopped trying and just hangs out in her sweatpants and retainer all day. Then one day the girl's back home for Thanksgiving and they see each other at a party and dude tries his best to make her think things are going really well with him and the new girl, but, yeah it's kind of obvious their relationship is pretty forced. Now all he can do is fantasize about her while he's making out with Damien Wilkins.
It's a little hard to compete with all this Hornets-love going on. Even Royce from the Thunderworld wonders if "Maybe we should have waited three more years and made a play for the Hornets."
Well, all I can say is gee, sorry I didn't get you the right color Range Rover, OKC. I guess you'll just have to settle for this other NBA team I brought you to quench your ravenous blood lust. I know it's not much, but I actually had to do a lot of things I'm not very proud of to get it for you--like sacrifice my honor and reputation -- so, you know, the least you could do is stay to watch for four quarters. At least while ESPN's here. Because there are about a billion NBA fans in China that would love to watch Earl Watson and Russell Westbrook try to run an offense, but they have to settle for stuffing the All-Star ballot for Yi Jianlian. That guy's gonna have a ridiculous resume someday.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Late last night after being thoroughly humiliated on national television, I led the diseased, skeletal remains of PJ Carlesimo's head-coaching career out behind the Ford Center tool shed, loaded my rifle, and steadied my aim just long enough to mercifully put a bullet through it's skull. Today, I am a man.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
So last night the Thunder were completely dismantled by the 1-9 Clippers on their home floor. Completely dismantled. They trailed by 25 at one point. It was quintessential Thunder basketball, and was a great evening for the entire family.
But then, late in the 3rd quarter, in just the 7th home game in their existence, the greatest basketball fans the world has ever known actually started to boo the team. PJ said it also occurred during a "good chunk of the first half".
What a triumphant moment for myself, Oklahoma City, David Stern and the NBA at large.
Here's my favorite part from John Rohde's article:
"Former Oklahoma State standout Desmond Mason was with the Hornets during their stay in Oklahoma City and has said the best thing about playing ball here is you don’t get booed, no matter how tough the going gets."He then says:
"Even after a game like that, they told us to keep our heads up, to keep playing," Mason said. "You don’t get that kind of treatment very often."Great effort, Desmond.
But I know what you're thinking. You're probably thinking "How in God's name does a team get booed by fans who have only watched them play seven games? In their inaugural season? After having billed themselves as the greatest, most supportive fans ever? After hyping themselves more than the team itself? After virtually taking credit for the Hornets' success? After endlessly bemoaning Seattle's 'lack of fan support' and actually claiming to deserve the team more than the city it belonged to for 41 years? Doesn't that strike them as completely deplorable? Is this a joke? Am I here right now?"
Slow down, my reactionary friend, there's a simple explanation for this.
They weren't saying "boo", the were saying "Boooo-mers!". You know the Boomers, right? It's the nickname Berry Tramel coined and has been mercilessly using in an offhand manner for weeks as if his readers are supposed to know what the fuck he's talking about. As if this nickname doesn't exist entirely in his own mind. Oh, you haven't seen that video? I don't blame you, but here it is anyway:
Christ. Keep trying to make "Boomers" happen, Berry, apparently it's catching on. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
So if you haven't been following the Thunder this week, let me just tell you that things are really, really going awesome. Sports journalism icon Darnell Mayberry writes:
"The Thunder’s record is identical to the 10-game start last season by the Seattle SuperSonics. That season resulted in a franchise-worse [sic] 20-62 record."Yeah, I suppose that's a little discouraging. I mean we're actually trying to win games this year, right? I'm pretty sure I cc'd PJ on that email. What's even more discouraging about that statement is that it's completely false. The Thunder have a worse record through 10 games than the Sonics did last year in Seattle. That team started 2-8, this team is 1-9. It was probably really difficult to type that so I can understand the error.
The basketball think tank at the Oklahoman is now quietly revising their win-total predictions from just a few short weeks ago. Because nobody could have seen this coming. No one. Who could have guessed the Thunder would be terrible? Completely unforeseeable. Kinda like the Iraq war. Nobody on earth predicted that would be a disaster. But then again maybe that's what happens when you formulate your prediction in an echo chamber of bias and uninformed opinion. Maybe those ESPN media elites actually knew what they were talking about. Maybe hubris and rosy predictions and AC/DC and a nauseating sense of entitlement and an utter lack of self-awareness aren't enough to win in this league. Maybe NBA players aren't intimidated by balloons and loud fat guys in terrible merchandise and a complete moron with a brick on his head who's team plays in 'Bricktown' and shoots a league-worst 40.8% from the floor. I suppose that's possible.
But I'm sticking to my guns that the "Thunder Way" is the only way to win in the NBA. Darnell just dropped an article called "Staying the Course", which is likely the first time since 2005 that phrase has been used in a non-ironic way. Everything's under control. Presti is about 2 months from turning OKC into San Antonio. That's our model. Oh, no wait... now apparently it's Atlanta, Portland and New Orleans. Okay then. So basically, whatever team is good or improving in the NBA right now is what the Thunder will be at some point in the future. And as none of you can see the future, there is no way to tell me I'm wrong. And if someday the future reveals a reality that is totally at odds with my prediction, that's because nobody could have seen it coming.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The Thunder love learning so much it makes you wonder why more of them didn't spend four years in college. In a performance Desmond Mason described as "embarrassing" and the Thunderworld called "valiant", OKC received another priceless
"Since the Knicks last saw them, the SuperSonics had changed cities, uniform colors and team name — everything except their actual identity, which is still defined by a lack of veteran talent and a disregard for defense.Someone must have forgotten to tell this guy that the Thunder are a "defensive-minded" team this year and have vastly improved since last season. But maybe this guy lives in the "reality-based" community. Fortunately for Thunder fans the Oklahoman doesn't, which is probably why they convinced themselves that Desmond Mason + Joe Smith + rookie = 15+ win improvement.
The Knicks had a 12-point lead by the 4:18 mark of the first quarter, a 24-point lead early in the second quarter and a 30-point lead early in the third. The Knicks had 68 points by halftime, a feat they last achieved in January 2007, against the Sonics."
Friday, November 14, 2008
Our own PJ Carlesimo is a proud member of the All-NBA Embarassment team:
"Carlesimo has no business coaching in the NBA. Sure, he put up some wins as the Portland Trailblazers head coach, but the Blazers were already a solid team when he was hired.Congratulations, Coach. PJ is definitely a great hire if you're looking for someone to lose games, alienate fans and insult your city. If not, though, you might want to go with a guy who players respect.
He was let go by the Blazers and the Golden State Warriors picked him as their next head coach. In a little over a season as the Warriors coach, he went a combined 46-113 during that time.
Now he's coaching the Seattle Sonics/Oklahoma City Thunder and is off to the same way he started as Warriors coach. So far his record as coach of the team in just over a full season is 21-68. Talk about embarrassing for a NBA team to pick him as a coach.
His problem is that he doesn't know how to handle the older players.
As an assistant coach, he was greatly respected, but as a head coach he doesn't demand respect from his players. Look at what happened when he was with the Warriors and Latrell Sprewell attacked him and the infamous choke marks on his neck."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
"Dwight Howard had 30 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 blocks in this game. Mentioning anything else would be doing you a disservice."Did we sell out? No. But did we learn a whole lot? Obviously:
"The effort was there, but the intensity wasn’t the first 24 minutes,” said Thunder center Robert Swift. "We picked it up in the second half. But we could have, and should have, played with (Orlando) the full 48 minutes. It’s a learning experience for a young team.”
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Running the best Thunder blog on the internet comes with a certain level of responsibility, and rest assured I take that responsibility very seriously. Unfortunately I've had a very hectic week here at PBC HQ, which has kept me from my normal blogging regimen. And if there is one thing I like more than my readers, it's money. I will choose dollars over Thunder fans every day of my life and OKC fans will only respect me more for it, because the "sports is a business" mantra has been ingrained into the very fiber of their being.
With that out of the way, there are a lot of victories to catch up on. Not actual victories, of course, but moral victories, which some naysayers and bitter Seattleites might also call "losses". But moral victories are just as good as real ones. "Moral victory" and/or 'learning experience" is a great way to frame a loss to your readers after having sold them on the fact that this team would win 37 games, largely because of how gifted OKC fans are at cheering at inappropriate times.
No, that loss to Boston (you know, the game Darnell Mayberry said we would win) wasn't actually a loss, but a valuable learning experience. Did you know we were winning after the first quarter?? We were. Leading after one quarter is a definite moral victory. But unfortunately NBA games last longer than 12 minutes. And one man's "hot start" is another man's "didn't take this team seriously enough to try hard for the first quarter". But not to worry, Thunder fans. John Rohde notes that the Celtics were mired in a 24-58 season until they convinced someone to give them Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. There's a realistic and not at all ironic blueprint for you. Now all we need is to find a couple patsies to give us their all-stars.
In Utah we learned how to go down by 31 points in the first half and eventually summon the minimal pride necessary to stage a rally after being embarrassed and "borderline disrespected" by the Jazz. Earl Watson said they were treating the Thunder like "little brothers". So, you know, kudos for mounting a meaningless "comeback" against the Utah reserves after the game had been decided and the other team was treating you like the JV squad. Impressive. Or as the Oklahoman described it, "valiant". Chalk this one up as another "w" in the moral victory column.
Against Atlanta, we learned how to collapse down the stretch in front of yet another Sunday night non-sellout crowd. Earl Watson was presumably taking notes on how to lose more efficiently next time.
Then, in Indiana, we learned how to lose to a mediocre team with a depleted roster. A team that used all 12 players in uniform due to injuries and foul trouble. Asked what he learned from yet another loss, Nick Collison replied, "It’s the same thing, I don’t know. We got to try to change what we’re doing.” So yeah, I don't know either. I guess the lesson for this game is more or less the same as every other game, which is "we're not good".
But all this
Moral record: 7-0
Actual record: 1-6
Monday, November 3, 2008
Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (via Truehoop):
"Two signs the Wolves aren't playing the Seattle SuperSonics anymore: Prayer preceeded the national anthem and the pregame meal in the media room featured chicken fried steak in the shape of the state of Oklahoma."Thanks for the win, God. And also for the delicious, state-shaped entree.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Here's the lead sentence from Darnell Mayberry's writeup:
"In the final six minutes of Saturday night’s first half, Kevin Durant picked up his Thunder teammates, put them on his shoulders and carried them to a respectable one-point halftime road deficit..."Wow, no shit? A one-point deficit? At halftime? On the road?? That's downright heroic. I know the final 6 minutes of the first half are where legends are made, but if it were me writing I'd save the "put the team on his shoulders" line for when they actually win. Or are at least winning. But I guess Darnell has an uncanny ability to see the positives. Maybe that's why he predicted this team would win 37 games this year. I am not making that up. 37 games. Maybe that's why he's also predicting the Thunder will beat Boston when they come to town next week. Yeah, I guess those 37 wins are gonna have to come from somewhere unexpected if you can't even make it competitive against Milwaukee. At home. On the "biggest night in OKC history".
But anywho, glancing at the boxscore I'm struck by the fact that the Thunder as a team were a combined 0-4 from 3-point range tonight. Wow. That's an area the front office might want to look into. If only the Thunder had a proven knock-down three point shooter with the purest stroke in basketball that could stretch the defense for Durant and um, you know, whoever else it is that scores for the Thunder. Someone like, oh I don't know, Ray Allen. Oh right. He's busy winning championships. And I forgot that the Thunder are a defensive-minded team all of a sudden and we all know Ray Allen is a defensive liability, which I guess is why Boston is so bad at defense now. But I'm not worried because Mike Baldwin says Jeff Green is the next Scottie Pippen. I guess I can't argue with the fact that he is probably the 2nd best player on a team with one really good player, which makes him Pippen. Just like Lamar Odom.
When Damien Wilkins is rocking the shooting sleeve, the trend is officially dead.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
So what did everyone dress up as this year? My costume was pretty much a no-brainer, because for every Halloween since 1985 I've dressed up as Sloth from The Goonies. I just break out my suspenders and it's a wrap. Easiest costume ever.
I took it easy this year and gave out candy to trick-or-treaters. We hand out two things to the kids at Casa de Bennett: Baby Ruths and nightmares.