It started with a simple tweet from Kevin Durant. “LSU > OU……” is what it said. And then KD tweeted to someone that responded to that, “its cool u jus mad cuz the sooners suck ahaha.” Then Sooner safety Tony Jefferson responded: “Kevin durant. Please stop talking trash about the sooners.. You play in Oklahoma. Regardless if you went to Texas. We support u #jerk.” Then he put a sad face.
And of course KD responded with: “get your panties out of a bunch.”
Which, as you might imagine, fired people up.
KD backed off it later tweeting, “Ok I’m sorry for “dissing” OU..I do live n oklahoma so ima just keep my mouth shut on that…I love yall in OK..hope yall love me back” but the damage was already done. (He also tweeted later at Jefferson, “No hard feelings..its a rivalry..if I went any other school I would love OU.”)
I hate that I’m even writing about this because it reeks of Nick Collison vs. Unnamed Radio Host. It’s a non-story. Something we shouldn’t at all care about. And as I say that, I’m about to write 800 words on it. I know, I hate myself for it too. I even sent myself an email telling myself what a moron I am.
But it’s a lockout and this is sort of the manufactured news of the day. Why were people mad? The response I got what that KD should support Oklahoma because he plays basketball here. Ragging on OU isn’t right if he’s going to live and play here. Three things:
1) KD didn’t trash talk Oklahoma. He bagged on the University of Oklahoma. It may be hard for some to understand it, but there’s a lot more to this great state than that school in Norman. And I say that as someone that graduated from there and takes a possibly unreasonable amount of pride in it. OU is indeed a large part of the state and a very important part to what Oklahoma is. But other than just the obvious — Oklahoma State, which is a fine institution of higher learning in of itself — Oklahoma is a big place with lots of stuff. Just because Kevin Durant doesn’t like OU, doesn’t mean he hates Will Rogers, Mickey Mantle, the Land Run, scissortailed flycatchers and Mick Cornett.
Look at it this way: If Blake Griffin said, “Man, USC totally sucks! Go OU!” should the people of Los Angeles collectively flip their poo? Should Griffin be expected to embrace everything about his new city?
2) Why, oh why, do Oklahomans get so defensive over everything? We made fun of a certain radio host for almost this exact same scenario. Nick Collison complimented Seattle’s weather and sort of said Oklahoma’s sucks in the summer. And it became A Thing. Why? Because someone said something sort of negative about the state. We were all almost universally on Collison’s side of things by the end of it as we chalked it up to a gross overreaction. Isn’t it pretty much the same thing all over but in place of weather is a university?
One of the very best things about Oklahoma is the incredible amount of state pride we have. People are damn proud to be from and live in this state. Maybe the only place that has more of it is Texas, but that’s more of an arrogant we’re-better-than-you-because-our-state’s-real-big-and-we-made-up-a-stupid-slogan way. I love this state. Everything about it. I’ve done some traveling to other places lately and nothing compares to the people of Oklahoma.
But as a result of that, we’re also very defensive about it. People are sensitive to any kind of backtalk against it. Whether it’s an inferiority complex or just an absurd amount of pride, I’m not sure.
3) KD went to Texas. He’s a Longhorn. He had his jersey retired there, is still taking classes and plans to have a degree at some point. He loves that school. And if you weren’t aware, Texas and OU don’t exactly get along. It’s never been a big deal that KD went to Texas because, well, he’s freaking good at basketball and that’s what matters. It’s pretty stupid for anyone to expect KD to like OU. Yes, I suppose it is part of the state he plays professional basketball in, but so is Tulsa and we all know that place sucks. (Just kidding.)
I think people are a little sensitive to this whole Texas thing with Durant because it’s something unspoken that we all sort of try to ignore. Every time Durant’s announced in the starting lineup — number thirty-five, from TEXAS — I can feel people cringing a bit. But then there are the moments where he flashes the horns, wears a shirt or tweets about it that throws it all right in our faces. And don’t think it’s just about OU fans either. Oklahoma State people don’t exactly have a favorable outlook of those weirdos in Austin.
Here’s the thing that a lot of people probably don’t want to hear: Thunder players don’t have to love Oklahoma. It has absolutely nothing to do with their contracts or how they perform on the court. What matters is that they wear a jersey that says “Oklahoma City” on it. That’s it. Russell Westbrook could despise everything about the city but as long as he loves the organization, his teammates, coaches and the new contract he’s offered, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
For whatever reason, Oklahomans are enamored with people complimenting and loving Oklahoma. I mean, I’d rather someone enjoy living here than hating the crap out of it, but it doesn’t necessarily matter to me. As long as they want to play ball here, that’s what I care about. But every time a new player comes, the media peppers them with questions like “So, do you love Oklahoma? Isn’t it so great? Do you want to live here for forever? Do you just stop and say ‘Boy, Oklahoma is great!’ all the time?” We’re absolutely eaten up with that and I have no idea why.
I love the pride in the state and I have as much as anyone, but I don’t need the validation from an NBA player to keep it that way. I know this state is an amazing place. The Thunder are now a major part of that incredible fabric. But players come and go. And quite honestly, I don’t give a crap if they liked OKC or Oklahoma. Because they don’t have to. Same thing goes for players that play in Memphis or Minneapolis or Portland or wherever. Of course it’s nice when they have favorable things to say about the place, but really, that’s not the point.
Enough of that. Here’s where I need to send myself another email that says, “Can we talk about basketball again?” I agree, me.