The honorable J.G. Marking chimed in during the late offseason with five things he’d like to see from the Thunder on the court. There was heated debate and regular debate, and pondering of real basketball issues that matter.
But not all in basketball that matters are basketball matters. The masses have had two years to digest the Thunder and form strong opinions on all levels of the team, and especially the fan experience. I’m sure there are a few dissenters out there, but unanimity is for commies. I’ve got five things of my own I’d like to see regarding some vital issues, and I think a lot of people will agree with me.
1. The Thunder should wear black shoes at home.
Remember the Martin Luther King Day game last season in the afternoon at Atlanta? For whatever reason, the Thunder wore home whites and the Hawks wore a red alternate. The Thunder also wore black shoes, which they usually only wear with the road blues.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the only reason they were wearing the black shoes is that that’s all the equipment folks pack on the road. I noticed the shoes right away and decided then and there that the Thunder should wear them at home at least occasionally as well. They just look cooler. Meaner. A bare hint of attitude. Jeff Green was apparently feeling it and showed more than a hint of attitude when he obliterated Josh Smith and sealed the game, which made me jump up out of a reclined position on my couch and yell in the middle of the afternoon.
I like the Thunder’s home uniforms a lot, and the home court at the still-the-Ford-Center-to-me is a clean, bright design that I like. But with the white shoes, it just looks almost too clean for me. The black shoes would give a little edge.
There’s a recent local precedent too. The OU football team, normally like the Thunder with black shoes on the road but white at home, switched to black cleats for home games for a couple of recent seasons, starting with Adrian Peterson’s freshman year in 2004. It propelled them to the national championship game, and thanks to Reggie Bush we don’t have to talk about what happened after that because it didn’t really happen or something.
2. With only a few exceptions, nothing that was on “Jock Jams” should be considered appropriate arena music.
A lot of you are nodding your heads right now. When CDs were exciting and shiny new things, many of us were at the age when ESPN’s “Jock Rock” or “Jock Jams” albums were in some way acceptable musical choices. In elementary and middle school or thereabouts, you’re really not reaching for Dylan albums. That’s for high school when “discovering” something 40 years old somehow makes you cooler.
Anyway, I’ll give “Jock Rock” some credit. There are some songs on there that should still be playing in arenas a few decades from now. I don’t want to live in a world without James Brown’s music, for example. But “Jock Jams” … let’s talk about the back of your closet for a minute.
The back of your closet is where you keep all of your old clothes, the stuff that you hardly wear and mostly will never wear again. There’s clothes from a decade or two back in there, depending on how old you are. (To digress further, we may now be discussing your guest room closet if you are of a certain age. It’s a rite of passage as you move into your first couple of houses. You put all of your old clothes in the guest room closet and pretend you may need them someday, then the next time you see them you are moving them into the guest room closet of your next house a few years later.) There are some shirts that still fit in fine with today’s style, if not on your flabbier body. Some may even have become cooler as time has gone by. But others are the kind of fashion mistakes that at the time were cool, but now you wouldn’t give to a charity because you would feel bad for whoever was trying to stay warm in your ugly pastel-colored clothes from the ’90s.
“Jock Rock” is the shirt you can and should still wear and “Jock Jams” is the shirt you will hide from your children someday to save face. Attention Thunder and we’re-still-calling-it-the-Ford-Center entertainment staff: “Whoomp! (There It Is)” should be put in a time machine and sent back where it came from. “Get Ready For This” hasn’t been something that should be played before tipoff since before half the Thunder roster was doing long division. We’re not denying that we thought it was cool when we were young and wore bright, neon, pasty sunscreen on our noses but nowhere else. But we’re saying we don’t need reminders. That goes with pretty much everything else on “Jock Jams” except Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2 (The Hey Song),” which is a “Jock Rock” holdover and we all enjoy enough that we’re somehow collectively willing to overlook Glitter’s conviction for sex crimes against children in Vietnam.
And Oklahoma’s reputation could be at stake with more national TV broadcasts this year. If they hear that junk coming back from the commercial break, what will they think about the music scene in Oklahoma? That the music industry sends a guy from Los Angeles on foot to Oklahoma every few years with the latest hits in a knapsack, but they usually stop in Phoenix for college and Albuquerque to start a family before they make it? And speaking of TV, the local broadcasts have an issue too.
3. I vote for “change” to the commercial lineup on Thunder game TV broadcasts.
When you’re watching a Wednesday night game against a crappy Eastern Conference team in February, you could be forgiven if you set yourself aflame when you see the same old commercials for Cox, SandRidge, OG&E and the like on the TV broadcasts for the 1,200th time in the season. Especially if you think about how that’s going to continue through the end of the year.
I know how it works. The main corporate sponsors are given airtime on TV and the radio as part of their overall packages that they pay good money for. So I don’t know if the onus is on them to come up with more than one freaking 30-second television ad per season or what. Maybe Fox Sports Oklahoma should just sprinkle in some PSAs or something. But the monotony of the commercials on Thunder broadcasts is killing everyone. The animated Cox guy is Public Enemy No. 1 in the James household.
And one more point: What is an advertisement for Chesapeake, Devon or SandRidge going to do for me, or any other Thunder fan for that matter? Change our rankings of preferred energy companies? Influence my future choice to sell a stake in multi-billion dollar gas fields to their company? Are they going to give me a stake in such a gas field so I may someday (immediately) sell it and retire? I guess they’re just trying to associate themselves with the warm-and-fuzzy feelings people have for the Thunder, using corporate soft power just to subconsciously give us positive reactions to hearing their names.
All I know is that every time I hear about one of them making a mountain of cheddar in a huge business deal, I feel like I should be getting a cut for putting up with the numbingly monotonous commercial breaks they force upon viewers.
4. The fan shops need better quality replica jerseys.
I’m not in a jersey wearing stage of life right now. I’m still young enough that if my DNA contained about 1,000 percent more basketball talent (and, you know, size and strength and all that) I could be on a pro basketball roster. So I would only be mostly kidding myself as opposed to totally kidding myself if I wore a jersey around. And I used to wear jerseys all the time, as the aforementioned back of my closet can attest. If you are about the size of a sixth grader and need a 1990s Dallas Cowboys jersey, I’ll let you borrow one of mine if you ask nicely.
But I’m not the type to really quibble with those folks, even those older than me, who do want to wear Thunder jerseys. I like seeing them at games and out in public, especially on enthusiastic kids. So I’d rather see them wearing something that’s of a higher quality than some of what’s available right now.
The shoulders are about three times as wide as what the players actually wear. The fabric looks and feels cheap. They look more like some of the newer and odd-fitting football jerseys out there than what the Thunder has hanging in the locker room. They’re just bad.
This summer, someone who would know grimaced and told me the Thunder was aware of what many fans see as shortcomings in the team’s offerings in the fan shops over the first two seasons, though we weren’t speaking specifically about jerseys. Long story short, that person said there would be a broader range of items (clothing and otherwise) available this season and the quality would be noticeably better on a lot of things. Here’s hoping.
5. Give us a buzzer beater!
OK, so this is technically basketball-related. But I’m not talking about this from any perspective that affects the team itself. We can talk about how it would boost confidence to hit that shot, and how the Thunder seemingly could rarely hit it over the last two seasons, but I’m talking about something else entirely.
One of the only great in-arena experiences that Thunder fans have missed out on so far at the I’m-not-letting-go-of-the-Ford Center is a game-winning shot at the horn. We’re just waiting to bust out and go crazy. People will fall over the super-steep rows in Loud City. Screams will ring out. Delirium will reign. Folks will be skipping to their parked cars. It will be great.
Jeff Green had one at Golden State during the Thunder’s inaugural season here. Kevin Durant had one his rookie season when the team was still in Seattle, but even that one was on the road. And there certainly have been big shots in the closing minutes of games in Oklahoma City, but I’m talking about a buzzer-going-off-with-the-ball-in-the-air shot.
If it happens to be in the playoffs, they’ll probably record another one of those tiny earthquakes that are happening around here, with an epicenter in downtown Oklahoma City. We’re all waiting for it.