I went back to Oklahoma in mid-March to watch my little sister play in the State Tournament. I touched down in the now surprisingly spry looking Tulsa International and my Dad picked me up and we drove the hour or so back to Fort Gibson. Charlie’s Chicken was already closed. It was a sad night.
The next morning we all got up and made the three and a half hour trip to Oklahoma City to see if the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers could make it three state championships in four years. They wound up doing so in pretty spectacular fashion (a 30 footer with three seconds left). Allie Glover has no conscience.
The Fort Gibson girls have become a bit of a dynasty. They’ve been to the state tournament for 10 straight years and they’ve been in the state finals seven of the last nine times. It’s hard for most teams to get to a state tournament once, much less get there and then make it all the way to the Finals seven different times. There are girls on the team who have never known what it’s like to not play in a State Tournament. The lone graduating senior on this year’s team lost a grand total of four games her entire career. That’s a level of consistency I can’t really comprehend. The last time they didn’t make a state tournament, Arcade Fire had not yet released Funeral and I was still reeling from the Orange Bowl beating my Sooners took a couple months before.
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My girlfriend came down for the weekend. She’d been to the city with me once before for a buddy’s wedding but this was the first time we really got a chance to explore. She met grandparents on this trip, ate at a Billy Simms BBQ, that sort of thing.
The girls played their semifinal during the day on Friday so that night we ran around. I wanted to show her Bricktown, an idea that my buddy condemned fairly immediately. “You’re the guy that just goes to Time Square when you’re in New York,” which is absolutely true. I embrace my lack of cool. I am not hip. Chili’s is fantastic.
We walked around downtown along the river and I pointed out things. It was busy down there, plenty of state tournament attendees doing the same sort of thing we were. The exception was Coyote Ugly, a desolate wasteland as we walked by. Some five or six people at the bar staring at, I think, televisions while a girl in jean shorts tried to pull some excitement out of them.
I enjoyed showing her the city and telling her how it didn’t always look this way. How the town had improved. I told her about MAPS and how the Thunder’s existence has further allowed money to be continually pumped into downtown. Basically regurgitating the thesis of the many features that have been written about the parallels between the city’s resurgence and the team’s rise to prominence. It’s a nice angle, but it’s also very tired at this point, so I won’t rehash it here. I’ll just say that it was nice to be able to show her the city.
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The Thunder have had their own remarkable consistency going these last several years. The stat everyone who reads this will know, is that they’ve improved their win percentage every year since they made the move from Seattle. They finished the regular season 60-22 last year
This year they’ve been hounded by injuries more than ever but now they sit at 54-19 with nine games left. Their run to end the season isn’t easy. They’ve got five games against teams that are either in the playoffs or fighting to get there and four against teams that won’t sniff the playoffs. But, of those four, they have to play the Monstar known as Anthony Davis twice, which is no fun. I’m saying, there’s an outside shot that they end the year with a worse record than they had last year but if they go into the playoffs healthy, then I’m good. Besides, ending the year streaking would lead to more attention and this team has always been at their best when they fly under the radar.
Nine games left. It’s beginning to feel awfully playoff-y. What a fun vibe to sit in.