Chemistry is a buzz word that gets tossed around a lot in sports, but is particularly involved with any conversation involving Thunder General Manager Sam Presti’s plans for his team. The thing is, in those occasions, it might not be a cliche.
Not too long ago, I read two books that helped me to understand the inner workings of a modern professional basketball team. Both, :07 Seconds or Less by Jack McCallum and Can I Keep My Jersey by Paul Shirley, happened to be at least significantly involving the mid-aughts Phoenix Suns.
I would imagine most people who visit this site are at least familiar with the tale of that team. They were easily the most entertaining team to watch since Michael Jordan hung up his sneakers for the second time and behind Steve Nash, their brand of basketball exuded energy and excitement. They won a lot of games and appeared to be having a crap-ton of fun.
The books painted an entirely different picture off the floor. Some of the higher paid players walked around with a chip on their shoulder, and after the press left, the players generally went their seperate ways. Their job was very similar to everyone else’s in that there was a hierarchy, politics, and the paycheck was the primary thing keeping them interacting with each other.
Thanks to the invention of Twitter, today you don’t have to be a league minimum earning bench warmer or embeded journalist to get a feel for how this Thunder team interacts with one another. And what I have observed is good. There is a true fraternal bond among these players.
And I really like the use of the word fraternal for these guys. Aside from the fact that only a couple of the guys are old enough to where they would be called “non-traditional students” if they were still on college campuses, everything they seem to do reminds me of my days as a fraternity guy.
They live in big houses that a typical college kid couldn’t afford. Most of their free time is spent playing video games. Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and James Harden kill time trying to become YouTube stars. Some of them participate in stupid games like slap fights. And if you listen to them complain about women in their tweets, you’d think they were struggling students rather than wealthy, handsome, and famous athletes trying to chase down starlets. Sometimes, I have trouble remembering that I am following the word vomit of professional basketball players rather than CollegeHumor.com writers.
The parallels to an NBA Animal House don’t end there, though. After the jump, I look at which role these players would play if they actually were living on fraternity row. Keep Reading…