Ed note: DT contributor J.G. Marking fired off an email to me saying he thought this Dwight Howard trade was a good thing. When I asked him why, he ripped off this response that provides something from the passionate fan perspective of the deal.
Since almost everyone is writing off the Thunder for the Western Conference Champs for the 2012-2013 NBA season, it’s hard for me to want to talk about anything else except why that really doesn’t make any sense at all because the two biggest issues that Lakers had last year was, 1) We can’t seem to stop Kevin Durant anymore and, 2) We REALLY can’t even slow down Russell Westbrook, and since I don’t see Dwight Howard coming out to defend either one of them…but I digress.
I’m actually very, incredibly interested in one specific ripple-effect from this trade that may seem like it’s coming from WAY out in left-field, but just hear me out on this…I think the Lakers just kept James Harden and Serge Ibaka in OKC for the foreseeable future.
And I’ve got four reasons of why I think that…
1) It’s one thing to walk away from a potential dynasty because you want to test out greener pastures and see what you can do on your own because you have no challengers left (in your conference, at the very least), it’s an entirely different thing for another team to come in and in one swoop cast you aside like yesterday’s news and make everyone essentially forget about your team and your band of brothers, that just won a conference championship, who will now be underdogs in the conference that they just claimed victory in while not losing ANY key cogs at all.There’s not a single returning member of the Thunder who isn’t ALREADY chomping at the bit to say, “You know what, F–k you guys. You think the Lakers have our number NOW?! After everything we’ve gone through and overcome?…Let’s do this.”
2) It couldn’t have happened at a better time. If you don’t think Kobe Bryant is jawing in Durant’s, Westbrook’s and Harden’s ears (especially Harden’s) about sitting at his table now that he’ll have yet another “best center of his generation” on his team and that they had their one shot in a lockout shortened season but they failed and it’s now gone forever…and if you don’t think Pau Gasol is smirking at Ibaka, speaking in Spanish about eating an entire wheel of cheese and how much he’s going to love having THE best shot-blocker and defender in basketball on his team for the regular season, then I’ve got news for you, nothing helps someone take less money and collectively sacrifice their own personal desires and dreams of “stardom” than A WORTHY ADVERSARY. Shoot, I’ll say it, ENEMY.
Not to mention the common goal that a group of brothers have grown up in the NBA together striving towards, only to come so close to achieving and reaching, instead having to watch someone else bask in the glory of that elusive championship. But also, and maybe mainly, especially when that worthy enemy can smirk like Kobe Bryant and piss you off like Pau Gasol…and then turn Steve Nash into Darth Canuck.
3) Clay Bennett will not, now that he’s been on the Western Conference mountaintop after YEARS of swindling (just being honest) and planning and patiently maneuvering for just the right and perfect window of opportunity at a dynasty, let the f—ing Lakers, in one summer, rise up and shove him off the top of the hill like some lame and powerless “small market” pansy without a fight. They’ve come too far and he’s got WAY too much blood on his hands at this point not to just go flat-out Macbeth and start slaughtering the money trees to pay whatever ransom it’s going to take to not let the West Coast, big city, perfect weather, “free agent dream destination,” Showtime Lakers spoil everything that this franchise, HIS franchise, has not only worked for, but actually STANDS for.
And don’t let that last point go unappreciated. The Thunder stand for something; they have an identity that everyone in the organization takes an incredible amount of pride and responsibility for and in, from the ushers at the stadium, to the front office suits to the guys on the hardwood, this franchise matters and stands for something. It means something to every single person beyond just a business, but also, and maybe most importantly, the Thunder mean something and stand for something to their community that maybe no other team in the league could ever come close to being.
And Kevin Durant knows it. James Harden knows it. Every single person knows it.
That’s why I can see Clay going all Happy Gilmore and just randomly screaming, “This is your home! Are you too good for your home?! ARE YOU?!!!” as he just writes endless amounts of zeroes on checks for Harden and Ibaka.
4) If you had to characterize Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka with one defining characteristic, it would not be, “Backing down from a fight.” In fact, you could make an incredibly compelling argument that all four of those individuals may be best defined with the moniker that they are not only FUNDAMENTALLY INCAPABLE of backing down from a challenge, but that they go around eagerly looking for one.
Because every single one of them, at one time or another, or with one critique or another, has had doubters and haters to shut up. “He’s too skinny; he can’t even bench 185 pounds. All he does is shoot…What?! He can’t play point guard, he’s too selfish and erratic…You’re kidding me, that guy is not athletic enough to be a shooting guard in the NBA and is totally unworthy of the #3 pick…Wait, the guy who never really played organized basketball until probably too late in life, and is too raw to make an offensive impact, and can’t stop goaltending, he’s going to be a legit PF in the league? The guy who is a horribly poor rebounder for his size and athleticism? Haha, ok, sure…” You see, those four all take extreme joy in looking Goliath straight in the eye, sliding that stone into the slingshot, and readying that thing to fire, with either a shimmy, a snarl, a wide-eyed holler or a finger wag, care of the Congo.
And right now, the Lakers just shoved all four of them in the back on the playground and said, “Oh yeah? Whatcha gonna do about it?”
That’s why the Lakers may have just saved the Thunder’s core for the next 5-10 years.
Because. It’s. F—ing. On.
…good grief the season needs to start tomorrow.