Every year, Sporting News names its top sports cities. This year, Oklahoma City (it includes Norman) finished No. 37, up 42 spots from last year. OKC is right behind Toronto and San Antonio and right in front of Austin, Vancouver and Buffalo. “Jumping into the major professional sports scene with the arrival of the Thunder is a big deal for Oklahoma city when it came to our 12-month city snapshot,” Sporting News chief of correspondents Bob Hille said in a statement. Stillwater came in at No. 60 and Tulsa No. 82.
SLAM counting down the top go-to players and they have Kevin Durant at No. 15: “Durant may have more natural scoring ability than anyone — yes, anyone — in the NBA. But those skills that seem like his birthright overshadow the real reason why he’s on pace to run this League: He also has a ton of learned scoring ability. Durant couldn’t drop 25 a game with an entire defense planned around him if it was as simple as throwing a ball into a basket on instinct. He does it because he’s a student of the game, with the work ethic of a Shaolin monk.”
Another Q&A with KD: ”Q: You put yourself through a pretty intense post-practice workout Tuesday. How much extra work do you like to get in after practice? A: I’ve noticed in these two years that I’ve been in the league every time I work out after practice I have a good game the next day so I kept going with that. I want to get better. That’s the thing I’ve been taught ever since I was young. Always get better so that’s why I do it.”
The LA Times previews the Thunder: ”I’m willing to wager that a healthy portion of NBA teams- lottery and playoff squads alike- would trade their lot in life for what the Thunder have cooking in their big cast iron, high plains basketball kettle. A killer core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, none older than 23, with more potential added in first rounder Harden. Scads of draft picks at their disposal. Cap space stretching to the tips of Oklahoma’s vast horizon. A home city forgiving of their growing pains and just happy to have the team- any team, really- in town, meaning there’s no rush to try and mess with the rebuilding blueprint and risk screwing things up in the process. So intense has the love grown among fans and scribes alike for GM Sam Presti that it feels almost dirty, like he should be shrinkwrapped and put in the naughty section of the magazine rack. But it’s all well deserved, which is why the man is smiling. You’d smile too if the future of your franchise was this bright.”
Darnell Mayberry’s game reaction: ”The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 19-9 in the final 7 1/2 minutes. OKC had as many turnovers (four) as field goals in those final minutes. Memphis rookie Sam Young took over like he was still a man among boys at Pitt, scoring 15 of his game-high 22 points in the final period. He attempted 16 free throws, 10 in the fourth quarter. But the result is secondary since two rookies (Byron Mullens and James Harden), two sophomores (Kyle Weaver and D.J. White) and three role players (Shaun Livingston, Etan Thomas and Ryan Bowen) were the only ones that played the fourth quarter. The main guys looked good.”
There’s always been a little speculation that Chris Bosh would be traded and possibily to OKC. HoopsWorld talks about Bosh’s potential last stand in Toronto: ”Talk is cheap. Preseason prognostications mean nothing. If the Raptors and their fanbase didn’t learn this a season ago, they may never learn it. It’s time for Toronto to prove it between the lines, and this year’s team has the talent to make it happen. Failure to do so could cost the Raps nothing less than their franchise player.”
A top 40 fantasy point guards list with Westbrook coming in 18th.
Sometimes I wonder if the Thunder’s Twitterers coordinate their tweets. Kevin Durant: “Man I just heard the loudest thunderstorm ever..sounded it like they were testing nuclear bombs in front of my house! PRACTICE TIME, hollahh.” Jeff Green: “Just woke up to the loudest thunder storm ever…sounded like it was in my room.” James Harden: “Man what kinda weather is this..thunderstorms like crazy..we don’t have these in LA lol..practice time..hit yall after.” Do you think when they heard it that they thought, at least for a second, “Heh, thunder…”?
Twenty 20 days.