It’s OU/Texas weekend, which is one of the biggest things in the state of Oklahoma. So naturally, you know the Thunder’s hero, Kevin Durant, will be flashing his horns wherever he is today. Or at the least on Twitter. Which will bring up the little debate that everyone got all huffy over a couple weeks ago.
I’m WAY over that discussion and I’m sure you are too, but it just hit me: All anyone’s talked about is how OU fans deal with this Longhorn KD stuff. But there’s another pretty prominent school in the state and nobody’s really considered their side of it. Do Oklahoma State fans care? Are they relishing this? Do they secretly love the fact that Sooners have to cheer a Lognhorn? Or are they just like OU folks in that yeah, it’s sort of a bummer KD went to Texas but who really cares as long as he’s rocking Thunder blue?
I asked Kyle Porter who runs the excellent Pistols Firing for his perspective on it.
The Thunder have, in so many ways united the entire state of Oklahoma. OU and OSU fans can come together to see KD grow up, embrace Westbrook doing Honey Badger things, and be floored by the fact that the best beard in sports east of San Francisco resides in Bricktown.
These are our guys, they’re the only professional team in the state (unless you count the multiple semi-pro football teams Prentiss Elliott has been on) and they’ve really done a great job embracing their role as the father figure to our sometimes-childish ways as collegiate fans.
And all of that was going swimmingly until KD transparently (and honestly) started rolling on OU’s football team and Tony Jefferson returned serve and…well you guys know how it’s played out.
Oklahoma State fans couldn’t help but revel in the collective response by Sooner nation. See, we get to pretend like KD is one of us. I mean, we both hate OU, right?
We enjoyed Durant’s college career the same way OU fans might enjoy, say, Paul Pierce’s career at Kansas. We connected with him and his vast array of shots in Gallagher-Iba during that three-overtime-37-point performance. Everything about that night was special and everyone in the building, including the skinny freshman from Maryland, knew it.
Sure, we want to beat Texas, but we don’t loathe them the way OU fans do. In fact, it’s actually kind of humorous to watch our brethren down south squirm over the fact that they have to fork over hard-earned cash to go Thunder Up for a guy who would sooner (no pun intended) give up accessorizing backpacks than flash a horns down to pander to his Oklahoman crowd.
And isn’t that what we want as fans anyway? For our athletes to be real people like us. If Tulsa talked Roger Goodell into a 33rd NFL team and somehow ended up with Sam Bradford or Landry Jones as their QB, OSU fans wouldn’t expect either of them to all of a sudden say, “man, I sure hope Mike Gundy has a big year this year. Orange power, baby!” No, that’s dumb and unrealistic. I would lose respect for them if they catered to their audience like that.
Too many athletes these days never buy into the organization or school they play for. They remain distant and detached, only serving as a reminder that they’re in it for little more than to maximize their self-grandeur and increase their own profitability. That used to bother me a lot about OSU athletes. You think they’re as sold out as you are as a fan and in most instances that’s just not true.
Durant is different. He gets that he’s part of something bigger than himself and we love him for it. But we can’t have it both ways. We can’t say “it’s great that you’re like that for the Thunder but I don’t want you to do it for your university.”
If he comes out and starts ripping Eddie Sutton and trashing Big Country, so be it. I won’t think less of him for it. He doesn’t owe anyone in this state anything outside of playing out the contract he signed with Thunder and always bringing everything he has (which is a considerable amount more than most) to every game.
Now if he starts rolling on Desmond Mason, then we can talk…