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Kids these days always gotta go and fix what ain’t broken.
Back in my day, if you wanted to watch cartoons, you had a four hour window on Saturday mornings from the buttcrack of dawn to 9am to consume your week’s supply of He-Man, Thundercats, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and Adventures of the Gummi Bears (shut up, I had a sister).
Nowadays, preteens pick up their iPhone 12 and in seconds, they can watch anything from Betty Boop to Rick and Morty.
And if you wished to tank your way to a top 5 pick in the NBA draft, you had to endure a Latrell Sprewell spanking on Saturday followed by a Chris Mullin mauling on Monday followed by a Dominque Wilkins whipping on Wednesday.
Call me old fashioned, but tanking certainly is not supposed to entail beating the greatest coach in NBA history and his playoff bound team on a game winning 3 by an undrafted defensive specialist as the buzzer sounds.
Maybe I’m a grumpy old man, but it smears the good name of tanking to run out a 22 year old fashion model to score a career highly efficient 42 points and allow his fans the satisfaction of witnessing the rise of a superstar.
What is this exciting, entertaining brand of basketball that gives me the taste of victory and the thrill of hope, and what did you do with my comfortably numb blow outs? These whippersnappers of Gen Z somehow made tanking fun and EZ. Like I told my BINGO night buddies Randolph and Mortimer, they don’t make tanks like they used to.
And there’s the rub. If you believe this is tanking, then I’ve got a Skydance bridge to sell you.
OKC currently sits in the #8 spot on Tankathon.com. Three of the bottom five teams, the Wolves, Kings and Rockets, have lost 6, 9, nice, and 9 games in a row. One of the other teams, the Pistons, beat a fellow cellar dweller, the Magic, so they course corrected and rested their 26 year old best player the next night against the Pelicans so they didn’t make that triumphant mistake again. Now those teams learned a thing or two from their tanking elders.
The truth is, Sam Presti tried his best, but try as he might, he’s bad at being bad. The Wolves, Pistons and Kings have had years of poverty practice while Sammy’s been sippin’ from the silver spoon of success. He traded away Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams. He took on what was considered one of the worst contracts in the NBA. He brought in small salary sophomores, rookies and veteran journeymen. He hired a G League coach. And yet he’s still fielding a team with endings straight out of Rudy.
When winning comes cause the kids crushed, that’s a night you just sit back and enjoy the sneak preview of postseason days ahead. SGA and Dort have separated themselves from the rest of the young core, and any success they have is merely playoff seeds planted. The only way to better OKC’s odds at a blue chip prospect is trading away or strategically resting veterans like Al Horford and Mike Muscala.
The Thunder have a double header in OKC this weekend, as The Peake plays host to the Hawks on Friday and the Nuggets on Saturday. Horford normally rests on the second night of a back to back, but for the first time this season, the five time All Star is taking off on the first night. That just so happens to be against the much more winnable team. Is this the first sign that the Thunder have pivoted away from the status quo and are implementing a more draft pick minded approach? Or will this be a one-time fluke?
This Thunder team is more competitive and fun than even the most optimistic of sunshine pumpers (looking at you, me) could have imagined. Shai showing off for 42 but coulda-been-if-he-wanted 50 was electrifying. Dort dropping a game winner, dropping to the ground and his teammates dropping on him dropped a lump in even the tankiest of throats.
But if that technological wizardry the youths call photoshop is to come true and Cade Cunningham ends up in a Thunder jersey with SGA and Lu, then the Thunder are going to have to start tanking like their top fore(pick)fathers.
I can’t miss Murder, She Wrote, my typewriter is running low on ink and my two arthritic index fingers are cramping up. Thank you for coming to my Tank Talk.
Now get off my lawn.
- Up next: Two All Star snubbed point guards from the 2018 draft with OKC battle in OKC. Trae vs Shai.