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Remember, chat with me on ESPN.com at 1:30 CDT today. Here’s a link to make your life easier.
Get to know Kevin Durant: “So we know you like to bowl and play video games. Which are you better at? “Video games. I can’t bowl that well, but video games I’m probably better at.” Favorite game of all time? “Madden.” Favorite team you like to play with? “The Ravens. Defense – I score all my points off defense.” What’s the toughest game you’ve played? “Call of Duty. I played that for a couple of days and after a couple of days it was too tough to beat so I just stopped.”
KD is a team player: “It’s no surprise Kevin Durant is really pushing the team angle this week. When asked by FanHouse if he wants to play for Team USA in the World Championships next summer in Turkey, the Oklahoma City forward couldn’t stop talking about how badly he wants to represent his country. Sounds as if he’d settle for the role of scorekeeper. Asked, though, about wanting to play next February in his first All-Star Game, Durant mostly just shrugged. This is apparently not a good time to be talking about such an individual accomplishment.” Keep Reading…
Nick Collison is a little bothered by his ankle injury: “I haven’t even practiced, yet, so I’m definitely going to be behind,” Collison said. “Yeah, I’m concerned. I’ll be fine eventually. You never want to be behind. But you also want to be 100 percent. I’m doing pretty good with the pain. It’s the explosiveness is what I don’t have.”
HoopsVine has a Thunder preview: “Sorry Thunder faithful, no playoffs this year but the franchise is heading in the right direction. Point guard is cause for concern with an explosive, but erratic youngster calling the shots. The team is relying on Livingston to be the primary backup and that statement by itself tells you all that’s needed to know. Durant is dynamic enough to lead this team to 30-33 wins and Oklahoma City will upset numerous opponents throughout the season.” Keep Reading…
(Edit: My initial plan was to write an article about our human nature to feed into the hype of unknown quantities, such as, say, Serge Ibaka, and believe that our scouts lucked into a rare talent who escaped the radar of every other team…then I watched him play against the Suns on Monday, and can’t consider myself above the fold. Chewbaka for Defensive Player of the Year! On another note, make sure to read the OU/TX rivalry breakdown that Royce posted over at TheLostOgle.com.)
Throughout my life, I have been pretty tough on referees. When playing intramural/rec league basketball, I have been known to blame the guys in black and white stripes for everything from a blown call to world hunger. Watching games on television, without the risk of getting T’d up, I have been even less kind.
Now that you know this about me, it will come as no surprise to you that my initial reaction to news that the NBA referees union was being locked out by the league offices was less than sympathetic. “Good riddance,” I thought to myself, “how could the replacements be any worse?”
Then, dread spread down my spine as I began to realize, “they could be a lot worse.”
As infuriating as the NBA referees can be, see here, they do have a ton of training and experience that scabs called up from the D-League/CBA/NCAA, or wherever they find replacements, cannot replicate. And that shortfall is only the biggest problem assuming the league was able to get the best non-NBA referees available…but that is not the case. Guys who have the objective and talent to eventually officiate NBA games for a living probably turned down the opportunity to fill in. If they did cross the picket line, they would lose out on future benefits afforded by the referee’s union.
So we aren’t talking just about replacement referees, we are talking about bottom of the barrel referees. Oh, joy!
On the flipside, some of that experience that the seasoned zebras possess, can actually be a detriment that these green, over-their-head scabs could actually improve upon the normal product. Because of these conflicting ideas, I have a pro/con list regarding this lockout after the jump.
Not the most exciting game ever. At least for the first three quarters. Kevin Durant was in foul trouble and didn’t play a ton. The Tulsa crowd was a little sparse mainly because of the competing Boise St./Tulsa game (but the official attendance was over 10,000 which is pretty nice). Scott Brooks was tinkering with lineups and a lot of deep bench guys saw action. And it just felt like a preseason game. Lots of whistles, lot of turnovers and quite a bit of sloppy play.
But it picked up very nicely in the final 12. Durant had 18 of his 30 points in the fourth as the starters came in and played well leading Oklahoma City to make up a nine-point deficit to win 96-91. What was good about this game was that it was an ideal demo for closing a tight game. The Thunder needed stops, needed quality execution and needed to make smart plays down the stretch. Check, check and check. Both coaches saw the opportunity to get some serious work in, as the starters played almost all the key minutes. And the Thunder were the ones to finish it out.
The best part? The defense. The Thunder got close by Durant going off. Then hung tight moving between down one and down three for a few minutes. But what won the game was OKC got a few stops, capitalized on the stops and did what needed to be done to win. While just a preseason game, encouraging it is. Keep Reading…
TV: Thunder TV – KSBI 52 (Cox 15, HD 715)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 97.1 AM Tulsa, Web Stream)
Time: 7:00 CST
View from the enemy: Hot Hot Hoops
Another preseason game. Sigh. HOWEVA, it’s at the new BOK Center, which is neat. I went up to the new arena a couple weeks ago for a concert and I was really impressed. Very nice. Hopefully events like this can begin to extend the Thunder brand more into Tulsa. It’s a slow process for this team to build a brand, but doing it in two nice sized markets will definitely benefit the team and especially its TV deals.
As for the game, my eyes are on No. 9 and No. 9 alone. He’s all I want to watch. When he gets the ball, in my mind he turns into that little league bench player that never scores. Shoot it! Shoooooot it! Come on, SHOOT IT! If we’re lucky, he’ll knock out a few light bulbs on the scoreboard with a monster rejection. Hopefully this all isn’t a preseason aberration and Sir Iblocka/Chewblocka/King Congo lets us all down. That would break my heart. Keep Reading…
I said yesterday’s podcast was going to be a two-part thing with another interview coming with director Jason Reid, BUT it appears I suck at computing. Somehow, the interview isn’t there or didn’t record or something. So, apologies to everyone, especially Jason since I evidently wasted his time. It was a nice conversation though.
John Wooden is one of my favorite people ever, so I enjoyed this story very much: ”Wooden, of course, is almost synonymous with UCLA. But here’s the amazing thing. At the time he was offered the UCLA job, he was also in the running to become head coach in Minnesota, which was closer to home for him. There were some complications with the Minnesota position, though, which he wanted to get straightened out first. They said they’d call by 6 p.m. with the details of his final offer. UCLA was due to call at 7. Minnesota didn’t call, so when UCLA called, Wooden said yes to his second choice. As he hung up the phone, it rang, and it was Minnesota. A blizzard had knocked out all the phone lines, so they had been unable to get through, but now they were offering everything he had asked for.”
Just very cool of Alvin Gentry: “Griffin said one of his goals as a rookie is “to be one of the most conditioned guys on this team.” He wants to be ready when his name is called. Speaking of….Griffin was inserted in the starting line-up tonight. Gentry explained that he likes to do that when young guys play their hometown, plus he knew his parents were in attendance.”