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Surely you’ve seen the 5-on-5 series on ESPN.com. Well, it’s branching out (and by out, I mean down) to the TrueHoop Network. Three questions, three answers. Pretty simple.
The lockout sucks. It’s wiped out all of November and if things don’t get moving soon, we could go without basketball for the rest of 2011. I’m super tired of talking about it, but then again, what else is there really?
1. Fact or Fiction: A shorter season helps the Thunder.
Royce Young, Daily Thunder: Fiction. But that’s just because a shorter season helps everyone. Veterans like Perk play fewer games. There’s less of a chance for injury because there aren’t as many opportunities to get hurt. A compact season with 78 games piled up could benefit OKC compared to a veteran team like San Antonio, but these are professional athletes — they’ll do what they have to do.
Patrick James, Daily Thunder: Fact. Unless something crazy happens with the schedule and the Thunder miss out on some patsies and have a lot of games against contenders. You’ve got to think a young team like Oklahoma City will be better prepared to handle the physical grind of a compact schedule. Would you rather rather do five games in seven days on the strength of Kevin Durant’s knees instead of Kobe Bryant’s?
Clark Matthews, The Lost Ogle: Fiction. Assuming they actually cancel games, rather than condense the season, that actually works to help older, more veteran laden teams who are don’t have the burden of 82 games to wear them down. Even a condensed season wouldn’t necessarily give OKC an advantage. In that scenario, the likelihood of a major injury (particularly since there will be little-to-no training camp) is much larger and the Thunder have benefitted from none of those in the past two years.
2. Fact or Fiction: Fact or Fiction: Anything achieved in a shortened season is tainted.
Royce Young: Fiction. But I do see how someone could think it was. I mean, all things considered, would you rather win a title in a normal 82-game season where it was business as usual or the season that everyone will have to say, “In the lockout shortened season of 2011”? Winning is winning and you definitely want that over the alternative, but there is some measure of stain to it, even if it’s minimal.
Patrick James: Fiction. Do you think Tim Duncan hides his championship ring from 1999? Only sore losers will say accomplishments come with an asterisk. It might make the playoffs crazier, but that doesn’t taint it for me. A medium-sized losing streak or winning streak will make a huge difference in playoff seeding, so you can have teams with seeds that don’t truly reflect how good they are (or not).
Clark Matthews: Fiction. I don’t see Tim Duncan giving back his ring. It will only be tainted if the fanbases of large markets watch their team flounder. If the Lakers (the fans that drive the “tainted” narrative on account of their team choking that year), Celtics, or Knicks win, their fans won’t find anything wrong with a short season.
3. Fact or Fiction: Missed games will affect fan support in Oklahoma City.
Royce Young: Fiction. That is only if the NBA resumes by 2012 though. If the lockout presses on through college football and all Oklahomans have is college basketball again, I think there will be some resentment.
Patrick James: Fiction. But that’s if we’re talking about one shortened season. A canceled season would be different. But if the Thunder can make another playoff run this coming spring, I would be pretty surprised if there aren’t still good TV ratings and a wild atmosphere in the arena. Fans like winning, and the good fit between the players and city won’t melt away overnight.
Clark Matthews: Fact. There’s a caveat on this one. If the NBA isn’t gearing up for games when Bowl season kicks off, the OKC fans will start to get bitter. With college football as a distraction, fans aren’t feeling major effects of lost games. Until they lose sports (other than hockey, and seriously, that doesn’t count) to entertain them, most people are completely oblivious to the labor negotiations. Of course, if OU loses another game, the time frame moves up.