Like basically everyone else on the planet, I especially enjoy Seinfeld. I’m the guy that plans my day around its daily airing on TBS, even though I have all nine seasons on DVD and have seen every episode close to 400 times. I love the show. I love the characters, I love the storylines, I love the hidden humor and inside jokes within each episode.
But one thing has always bothered me a little: I only got to appreciate one season “live”. I was too young to be a fan when the show was in its prime and rolling out new episodes every week. I only really remember Season 9, and really, mostly just the last half of it. I actually kind of remember my dad telling me to watch the finale because it was supposed to be a big deal. I only now appreciate the show fully, over 10 years after it ended.
Granted, it was out of my hands, but I wish I could have absorbed those great seasons like a real fan.To have watched the brilliance of Season 6 and known to appreciate it right then and there would have been so much better than catching a re-run 15 years later.
So, how does this relate to the Oklahoma City Thunder? Well, the point I’m trying to make is that I think this is the time to appreciate the Thunder. This is the time to soak it all up. You don’t want to be me, 10 years from now looking back and wishing you had absorbed and understood everything you were witnessing with this young team. It won’t be like regretting you decided to have a bowl of cereal with that milk that expired two days ago, but you’ll wish you would have valued it a little more. You will.
I don’t know if everyone in 1993 realized that Seinfeld would eventually take over the world. The cast had serious chops, the writers were great and there was an unwavering vision for the show. It all melted into the greatest sitcom ever and one of the greatest shows ever.
And while Season 3 of Seinfeld isn’t the best and doesn’t have the most memorable moments, the looming greatness is there. It’s really when the show started to turn the corner and become the monster that it is. And that’s something to really appreciate, especially if you experienced it first-hand. Episodes like “The Parking Garage,” “The Subway” and “The Boyfriend” could be like the Thunder’s win against Phoenix, the overtime loss to the Lakers and some other random game down the line. This season may not have a “The Contest” in it, which leads the list of Great Television Moments, but it’s going to have some wildly fun episodes within. Wait, are we talking about Seinfeld or basketball here? I think I’m lost.
I’m just trying to say appreciate this season because it might be the funnest ever. A season of no expectation, no cause for letdown, no idea of what could be.
Sure there will be bigger moments down the line. Bigger shots. More memorable games. Huge playoff series. But something just tells me that this might be the year we all remember 30 years from now as our favorite ever. It was the year we got to literally watch a core of young players evolve and grow right in front of us. We got to watch a future NBA great begin to take his steps into that pantheon of unparalled superstardom. We got to watch young studs begin to understand their role and what they could do to make their team win. We got to see raw talents like Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook find themselves and figure out how to harness their ridiculous abilities and skillsets.
This team is going places. And in 10 years who knows what’ll be hanging from the rafters in the Ford Center. Maybe a Western Conference banner. Maybe a couple Northwest Division titles. Maybe… an NBA title. But before we find ourselves as that entitled fanbase that expects 50 wins and nothing less, we can sit and appreciate a 17-14 team for what they are – a group of youngsters hungry to be great. It’s truly a beautiful thing to me.
Yes, I’m sure rooting for Kobe and his potentially all-time great Lakers squad is fun. Yes, being a fan of the Celtics would be nice, knowing you’re going to watch your team win most any game they play. But right now, I’m not sure I’d trade that for what Oklahoma City’s got going in front of them. Our time will come eventually. But I seriously doubt there are many Celtics or Lakers fans that can recall when they became a fan and the season that hooked them. I doubt they can look back on a moment or season where they saw a team, a city, a fanbase begin to grow up and understand what they are. We’re at that crossroads right now. And that to me, is special. Maybe even more special than the future banners that will hang. Call me crazy, but that’s how I see it.
I basically had to teach myself how to love the NBA. I enjoyed the novelty and newness of the Hornets in 2005 and 2006. I was excited for a professional sport when the Sonics moved here. I was the guy going to games and telling my friends how I could never picture myself caring anywhere near the amount about a “Thunder” game as I would an OU football or basketball game. “I just can’t ever see myself fist-pumping and high-fiving after a big 3 or something,” I’d say.
And now, there I was a few nights ago letting out a sound only heard at Jonas Brothers’ concerts after Kevin Durant swished the clincher against the Suns. During a December NBA game, I was cheering and yelling like I would at an OU football game. Granted, I’ve been doing this crazy fan act for well over a season now, but I’m just now realizing that this is My Team. This isn’t a novelty anymore. It’s not new. It’s not just something neat to hold us over in between football seasons. It’s real. It’s exciting. It’s awesome.
I don’t think there is any more of a raw passion in any professional fanbase right now. We’re all flying by the seat of our pants. We didn’t know what to expect this season, but this group is blasting past whatever you had in mind.
When we look back in 15 or 20 years, you’ll to talk about the first season and opening night. You’ll talk about deep playoff runs or epic games or monster performances. You’ll talk about incredible plays or stellar seasons. You may even get to talk about… championships. And while of course we’ll treasure all of that, I just get a feeling that the 2009-10 season may hold a special place for me. The year it all started to come together. The year a group of young but talented players started to figure out how to win. And the year a city learned how to love them for it.