Wednesday Bolts – 2.11.09

Basketbawful Worst of the Night: “The news that their new mascot is a bison was trumped today by the thunderbolt2outbreak of tornadoes in the OKC area. Luckily for we basketball fans this game was played in LA, but like the LA announcers said last night “there’s a reason the national weather service has its headquarters in Oklahoma City”. Oh yeah, they also got beat by the Lakers. Who could have seen that coming?”

Shoals is happy about the H-O-R-S-E field: “I can’t tell you how stoked I am that we’re not getting a bunch of three-point shooters and goofy tricky shooters (Kevin Love, I see you!). Sure, there’s no dunking allowed, but you want players who can mix athleticism with range and offensive creativity. Durant’s length seems to give him some sort of advantage, though I’m not sure what. Johnson’s fundamentally sound, deceptively explosive, and quietly acrobatic, which to my mind makes him the favorite. I’ve often thought that Johnson is Mayo’s ceiling as a player, so in that respect the match-up is intriguing. And right now, Johnson’s more of a complete package.”

Nothing to do with the Thunder, but watch this. Corey Maggette travels six times in one play. This is something officials seem to be totally lax on: letting players shuffle and change pivot foots constantly.

A review of the new KD1’s: “We featured the Nike KD1 in our 9 Sneakers We’re Looking Forward to in ‘09, and after testing it out, we can honestly see why it is one of the more anticipated sneakers this year. When Kevin Durant stated that, “he wanted a shoe at a price point that most individuals could afford,” I was a little skeptical of how much quality Nike was going to insert into Durant’s 1st signature shoe. Priced at $88, the shoe is less than half of the price of some of other shoes in the Nike Basketball lineup, but when put to the test, the shoe performed very well.”

Clay Bennett says the Thunder will provide dividends to the state: “That frying pan of scrutiny started with their first efforts in Seattle, memories Bennett said he hoped to blot out. What lessons did he draw from two years, and even more lawsuits, that led to the team’s move to Oklahoma City? To improve their communication efforts and avoid litigation at most any cost. “It really hampers how we do business,” he said of the changes they adopted after their many legal encounters. “We really need to think about how we do that. “I remain convinced that we did the best job we could to be successful in Seattle,” Bennett said of operations there. “It was not meant to be.”

One former Sonic fan turned Blazer fan won’t be watching tonight:”I just don’t think I could stomach seeing the team that I was loyal to for so many years playing for a new city, especially because I would be rooting against them and for my new team, Portland. I know lots of former Sonics fan will be making the trip down I-5 to get some chants of “Let’s Go Sonics!” going, but I know I wouldn’t be able to watch. It’s hard enough to watch the highlights of the team that was taken from me, let alone going to watch them for a few hours.”

KD says he’s going to the parking lot, but is worried about his lefty (with lots of great notes from last night’s game): “Anyway, Durant says he “definitely” plans to go behind the backboard and possibly go into the parking lot, saying that his advantage is his range. He thinks he might get tripped up by lefty stuff.”

Phil Jackson on Russell Westbrook: “He’s had a really good couple months, impressed everybody,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “The hard part is getting into the 40-, 45-game mark, he’s kind of hit the wall as a young player. He’s struggled a little bit lately, but he’ll come through this and start playing well again.”

The Lakers Basketblog: “But why, you’re wondering, would the Lakers not completely hammer a far inferior team featuring two rookies and two second year players in the starting lineup? Certainly, the relative let-down is interesting, if not expected; No matter how tough Phil Jackson and his assistants told their players that OKC was going to play, it was understandably a bit difficult for the Lakers to bestow full respect on a 13-38 team that the holders of the NBA’s best record “knew” they would beat (oh wait … Charlotte … oops!). Hard it is to match the intensity that a team like the Thunder may bring in let’s-test-and-prove-our-worth mode, but surely the result was never in doubt, and getting the win was paramount to keep the momentum train generated during a fantastic 6-0 road trip on the tracks.”

Russell Westbrook to The Daily Breeze: “A joking, needling, have-fun Westbrook was spotted during a relaxed moment in the Thunder locker room three weeks ago before the Thunder played the Clippers when a game between Oak Hill Academy, featuring Kevin Durant, and Leuzinger, including Westbrook, became a topic of conversation. “They beat us by 80,” Westbrook reported. His impression back then of Durant, the 2006-07 national college player of the year as a freshman at Texas and the 2007-08 NBA Rookie of the Year for the Sonics? “I did not know who he was,” Westbrook deadpanned. Durant was sitting two lockers away. He pretended not to be paying attention. “He had a dunk here and there,” Westbrook said. “I burned them on offense.” Durant could no longer remain silent. “No way,” he said.”

Westbrook is No. 4 in SI’s Rookie Rankings: “With Rudy Gay a late scratch for this weekend’s slam dunk contest because of a hip flexor, here’s hoping the NBA does the right thing and inserts the thrill-a-minute Westbrook into the field. Westbrook was beaten out by fellow rookie Rudy Fernandez when the fans voted to select the fourth participant to join Gay, Nate Robinson and defending champion Dwight Howard. The 6-foot-3 guard hinted at his potential repertoire when he lobbied for fan support with this video.”

2009-02-11 11:46:40
Look, I am glad for all the people of Oklahoma that they finally have an NBA team, they deserve one. But I just wish Clay would shut up about Seattle, there is no evidence he even tried to make it work and certainly was not "a man possessed" to "[do] the best job [he] could there." As a former semiSonics fan (see what I did there) I'm not passionately angry about what happened but statements like those which are obvious distortions of fact just make me mad.
2009-02-11 12:22:45
Man, Portland tonight. That is going to be really friggin tough. You just know they are smarting from losing a week ago. I think that's part of why I'm somewhat disappointed in last night's game. I actually felt that we had a better shot in LA, where the players would likely be a bit tired and not quite focused. Not going to get that tonight. Would like to say we will win, but... I just don't think so. Hope our players ate their Wheaties for breakfast.
2009-02-11 12:27:35
Not to mention a VERY HOSTILE crowd. Heck, they've even got people coming up from Seattle to boo the Thunder. Maybe the Thunder can feed off some of the negativity and use it to put some fire in their play. This is going to be tough. A good test of our team's mettle on the road.
2009-02-11 17:33:02
<blockquote cite="#commentbody-1924"> <strong><a href="#comment-1924" rel="nofollow">John</a> :</strong> I’m not passionately angry about what happened but statements like those which are obvious distortions of fact just make me mad. </blockquote> No, your wrong, the distortion of fact has come from Seattle, entirely. The spin doctors in Seattle have pointed the finger of blame at everyone but the guilty parties. It was not Bennett's role to mobilize the Seattle community to build an arena. That is absurd to even expect that to happen. How stupid can someone be to think an outsider can enter a community and ask them to raise taxes ??? Duh !! Bennett talked to anyone who would listen at the state capitol, he knew the City of Seattle was a waste of time. No one in government cared to put their political futures on the line for NBA basketball. Again, the initial PC that announced the sale of the Sonics to Bennett, he told Seattle they one year to have plans in place for a new arena, or he was moving the team. After one year those plans were nowhere near being in place. If the threat of the team moving could not mobilize the Seattle communitie(s) behind a new arena. Then Bennett himself would be pissin in the wind attempting to do that. Get real, you'd have to be very very naive about politics on the city and state level to even expect Bennett to acommplish that. So no, it was not a distortion of fact. The truth is that Bennett has been maligned and slandered for doing nothing but telling Seattle how it was going to be and then doing it. He's a man of his word. Seattle called his bluff and lost.