Happy Birthday, Cupcake

You know, I’m a very passionate sports fan. Sports have been my refuge from reality. It’s the place I hide to escape when things get tough. The Green Bay Packers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Oklahoma Sooners are my favorite teams.

Things got tough last 4th of July when Kevin Durant left OKC to join the already champion Golden State Warriors. Fact is, if Draymond Green hadn’t gone all out stupid ass the Warriors would already be threepeat champions with two of them coming without Durant. If Durant had left to join Boston, LA, Chicago, New York or even San Antonio…I would have been okay with it. But that’s not what he did, what he did was calibrate the easiest path possible to an NBA championship. He then had the audacity to say with a straight face his decision charted him the toughest path possible to a ring. Whatever. Talk that shit to your dumbass brother Tony the ‘agent’.

I had no idea Durant was a Libra. I’m a Libra. My wife is a Libra. Most of her family are Libras and it’s an Air Force family with as much grit as you’d ever want to see. When I’m having talks with my father-in-law the guy across the table from me is a retired U.S. Air Force one star brigadier general. Thankfully—he thinks Caligula is an even bigger douchebag than I do. I have three nephews and a niece who are Libras. And here’s the thing…out of all these Libras–Kevin Durant is the weakest motherfucker in the bunch. My niece, Silvia, has some moments, but still. She’s a twelve year old girl so I’m cutting her some slack. What I’m saying is Libras are generally tough minded, fair, independent people who don’t act like the BPOAT (Biggest Pussy of All-Time).

Peyton Manning spent almost his entire pro career with the Indianapolis Colts and many of those seasons ended with the Colts losing in post season to Tom Brady and the New England Pats. Manning finally broke through, beat the Pats in an AFC Championship Game and won his Super Bowl with the Colts. Heck, he even won a second Super Bowl in Denver on his farewell tour. Dirk did something similar when he lost to the Miami Heat in 2006, but came back in 2011 and led the Dallas Mavs to their only world championship to date. Manning never hooked up with Brady and the Patriots and as we all know Dirk is still in Dallas.

So–Russell Westbrook has decided to stay and chances are he will never win an NBA Championship in Oklahoma City. But maybe, just maybe, like Dirk he’ll have that season where the stars align and he gets his ring. Odds are against it though. We live in an era of super teams with LeBron organizing in a city which fits his current needs. The Warriors are stacked. At some point a team in Los Angeles will get its shit together. It will be a narrow window for Russell Westbrook. Time will tell if he did the right thing.

But I know this for certain. Russell Westbrook in no way made a decision which will enhance his percentages in winning an NBA Championship. But he did make a decision which will endear him as the most loved Oklahoman of All-Time.

Happy birthday, Cupcake.

Russell Stays

Unlike some, I haven’t been sweating this all that much since I heard the interview with Russell’s college coach Ben Howland back in June. He called it way back in June when he did an interview on the Sports Animal. There was a certainty in his voice as he talked glowingly of Russell’s loyalty to those in his inner circle. Howland not only said Westbrook would sign the contract, but would probably play his entire career in Oklahoma City. His tone calmed me, so unlike some, this isn’t really a shock to me.

Russell signed a five year deal today worth $205 million, couple that with the $28 million and change he’s making this year — and that’s $233 million in the next six years.

So here I am as a fan having Russell Westbrook signed on my favorite NBA team and Aaron Rodgers signed on my favorite NFL team. Probably the two most galvanizing athletes in their respective sports playing in small market Oklahoma City and Green Bay. Life is good.

Sam Presti is Russell Westbrook’s man and vice versa. Presti has not only proved he’s a draft day savant, but has now proved he can attract other NBA stars to hook up with Russell in the coming years via free agency and uber creative trades.

Think about this for instance–last summer Presti traded Ibaka for Oladipo, Sabonis, and Ilyasova. Presti then turned Ilyasova for Jerami Grant, then this spring turned Oladipo and Sabonis for Paul George. Really? Anybody seen the Lakers do anything like that in the last eight years or so?

I’m happy. The city I live in needed this. Durant’s departure was like no other gut punch in Oklahoma City history since the Murrah Building bombing. There was a gloom overhanging the city after Durant’s slithering departure. Most thought Westbrook would be California bound and kept their hearts tethered, but here’s the thing, Russell Westbrook is his own man and did in his heart what Ben Howland told us he would do. Like when he stayed at UCLA without a scholarship and waited for a spot to open.

Ben Howland knew and so did Sam Presti.

Ben Howland now coaches Mississippi State. Kevin Love plays with LeBron. I have no idea what roster Brandon Jenning is on currently…it might be Phoenix.

Russell Westbrook is now the highest paid player in the NBA.

Pretty good day for a a skinny kid from LA who most said would never turn into an NBA point guard. Pretty good day, and the fact he did it on Cupcake’s birthday is just so Russell.

Steven Adams — 2017 Media Day

Let me be clear, I love Steven Adams. When Nick ascends to coach status, Steven will become my favorite Thunder interview and depending on what Russell does…maybe my favorite Thunder player.

Steven has parts of Nick in him. Smart, tough, intelligent, and he’s funny. I met Steven in person this June at a 7-11 store in Nichols Hills. He was with his girlfriend and was getting gas on the other side of the pump I was using. You don’t realize how big Steven is until you’re standing next to him. I had my Thunder ball cap on and found myself gawking at Steven in awe. He looked at me with this great smile and said, “What’s up, mate?”

I said something like “Just getting some gas and a cold beer. How about you—why aren’t you in New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania or some other country Trump has insulted—it’s the off season.”

He responded,” You know, mate…it’s a bit of here and there.”

Keep in mind, I knew this would probably be my only chance to interview Steven for okcthunderground.com in the flesh. So I said,” I just want you to know how much we all enjoy having you play here in Oklahoma City.”

I meant it and he knew I did. He said, “Thanks, mate–appreciate it.”

So then I asked, “What about Russell? What do you think he’s going to do with his contract?”

“Wouldn’t know, mate. Went down that road last summer.”

I said, “Yeah, fuck Durant. I thought he was going to stay.”

“It’s the way it goes, mate. It’s a business.”

“Yeah, I guess, you want a beer?”

“No, mate. Thanks though, mate.”

So there’s my exclusive interview with Steven Adams. By my count, I was called mate seven times…which of course I loved. Little did I know at the time, Steven is fascinated by the butterfly garden at the Oklahoma City Zoo. That’s right in my wheelhouse in that I helped my wife put her butterfly garden in place out here at our place in Deer Creek. It is amazing this time of the year with all the monarchs and other species of butterflies. So…if I ever run into Steven again at that 7/11 we’re talking butterfly gardens. Enes is gone so he might need a new mate to talk to then and again. You never know.

Anyway, I expect a very good season from Steven as he starts the first year of his new contract. With the additions of PG, Melo, Patterson, and Felton–I expect there will be oceans of space and time for the pick and roll with Steven finishing at the rim. I’m thinking 12 points and 10 rebounds a game would be good goals for Steven this season. I mean, he’s only going to get so many touches, but I expect a very good season from Steven. And since Russell has his Oscar Robertson record from last season…he needs to quit mooching some of Steve’s rebounds.

So here’s Steven talking Enes Kanter and butterfly gardens.

Russell Westbrook on Melo, Paul George, and Caligula

Good Media Day presser for Russell to start the 2017 season. Obviously lots to talk about with the additions of Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Patterson, and Raymond Felton. As I’ve watched Russell over the years, it’s taken him awhile to just kind of relax with our local media in Oklahoma City. Let’s be clear, the OKC media is for the most part a very laid back deal compared to larger markets across the league so it’s taken them awhile to go from a college based market to one that has now covered an NBA team for a decade. The two guys I read are Berry Tramel from newsok and Royce Young from espn. I like Erik Horne from newsok as well. He was always kind to me on the newsok messageboard and I’ve appreciated the fact he never banned my ass.

My advice to Russell would be to continue to open up with the local media like he does with the national writers. Granted, Tramel can be a nerdish pain in the ass at times, but just work through that and embrace the relationship with the local media. Reveal more of yourself as a person, a father, and the truly outstanding young man you are.

At the beginning, there were parts of Russell I didn’t care for. I didn’t like the way he left the bench after a heated exchange with coach Mo Cheeks during a playoff game. But what I’ve learned about Russell over the years is that’s just the high level competitor in him. He wants to win badly and I admire that. I love the way he talks about his wife, his parents, and his little brother, Ray Jr. I love the fact he embraced every moment of his college experience at UCLA and to this day is an avid UCLA supporter. One of the best interviews I’ve ever heard regarding Russell was one his college coach Ben Howland did on the Sports Animal. If you can find it on their archives I’d highly suggest you listen to it if you’re a Westbrook fan or just a Thunder fan in general.

For me, it’s been a journey watching Russell, Durant, Harden, Collison, Ibaka, and others play in the smallest market in the NBA. I pinch myself at times. All of this because Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. How amazing is that?

In the end, what I love most about Russell is his work ethic and his love of family. Call me old school, but I’m a work ethic guy to the core. I love the fact Russell has had to work his ass off from his high school days to the present to get where he’s at. I love the fact that he never gave up. He didn’t get down when his high school coach had to make a few extra calls for him to get an invite to that elite camp in Atlanta. I love the fact when Howlett told him he’d have to wait until Jordan Farmar declared to go pro before he’d have a scholarship at UCLA… despite the fact he had five other offers from DI schools… Russell waited. I love the fact that every local and national writer said Russell couldn’t play the point guard position at the NBA level…and yet now stands Russell as the best point guard in the NBA. Keep in mind, I got to watch Chris Paul’s first two years as a pro right here in OKC during the Katrina relocation, and while Chris Paul is a very good basketball player—he isn’t Russell Westbrook. Don’t go there with me.

I also love the way Russell talks about his parents. Again, it’s the old school in me. It’s so refreshing to hear a millennial talk in the glowing terms the way Russell talks about his relationships with his mother and father. It truly puts a lump in my throat because my son is Russell’s age and my wife and I did exactly what the Westbrooks did with their son. We dedicated our lives to him. I totally respect the process…the journey of life. Our son talked about us at his wedding in Florida two years ago the way Russell talks about his mom and dad. I would have to say it was one of the best moments of my life. It made every tough day or normal life setback worth it. I cried at my son’s wedding and I’m still crying because like Russell he married a truly amazing young woman whom I’ve come to love as the daughter I never had. So… there will always be these parts of Russell I adore even if he leaves Oklahoma City.

Russell Westbrook—2017 Media Day

What Happened With the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Chicago

This just seemed so odd to me when I saw it the first time. The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are my two favorite NFL teams. The Packers are owned by the fans of Green Bay…literally. The Steelers are owned by the classiest ownership family in perhaps all of pro sports…the Rooney Family. When I saw this on TV it just didn’t seem like a Steeler way of doing things. One guy going out there and standing while the rest of the team stayed inside the locker room.

Here’s the interview afterwards with Alejandro Villanueva explaining what went wrong. Pittsburgh is a hard ass blue collar working city. There is no way their fan base would go along with what appeared to have taken place on Sunday. The explanation by Villanueva in the presser makes sense.

Joe Scarborough Asks of Trump Zombies…Who Raised You People ?

It’s raining in Oklahoma today so I leisurely took in Morning Joe. I know what Joe Scarborough is feeling. I’ve almost lost it several times with people I know, but have been able to reel it in because I know I can get it out of my system on this blog.

So John McCain and Susan Collins mercifully put an end to the GOP’s most recent attempt to repeal Obamacare, and of course again the GOP minions failed as they have failed on everything except McConnell’s nuclear confirmation of Gorsuch. Not one piece of meaningful legislation has been passed. Nothing has been done with the exception of Caligula attending these rallies and pandering to the dumbest segment of white trash America. It’s kind of shitty of me to call certain white people… white trash, but it is what it is. I mean, when you have a segment of the population who aren’t even smart enough to vote in their own self interest, what the fuck else can you say? 2+2=5, right? Sigh. Tom Friedman can use that in his next book if he so chooses.

Unlike Joe, I think I’ll be okay. I’m not going to melt down. It doesn’t serve any purpose, but I do agree with Joe in that who raised these people? Who the fuck boos a man with a 3% chance of surviving the brain cancer he’s battling? Who raised these people?

It’s absolutely stunning to witness. Just a complete lack of any moral compass whatsoever and any intellect whatsover. I’m thinking of getting a T-shirt made which simply says… Who the Fuck Raised These People?

Rant over. I’m better. Jesus Murphy…what a pathetic collection of idiots.

Dallas Cowboys Handled It the Right Way on MNF

I like the way Dallas handled all of this tonight in Glendale. If the Thunder ever make a public display–this is the template I’d follow.

As a team they knelt in unison and prayed, then stood for the national anthem and were respectful to the men and women who have sacrificed for all us to enjoy Monday Night Football. I’m assuming Thunder owner Clay Bennett and Sam Presti would agree with me.

Well done, Dallas Cowboys.

Nick Collison Media Day Interview

Nick Collison and Russell Westbrook are my two favorite Thunder players of all-time. Harden would be third. Durant fourth, and Serge Ibaka fifth. But Nick has always held a special place in my heart as a Thunder fan. It’s the selfless, tough, intelligent way he has played the game. He plays the game exactly as you’d expect the son of a coach to play the game.

He’s by far my favorite current Thunder player interview. Steven would be second, and Russ would be third. Russell has come a long way in this regard and I’m hoping we see even more of Russell as a person as this season moves along in his interview sessions.

So these are the three interviews I’m doing for Media Day.

Nick goes first. Maybe his last as an NBA player. Gulp. And, yes, he is asked about Caligula on here.

Steve Kerr’s Random Thoughts on Caligula

From Day 1, both Kerr and Poppovich have been consistent in their criticism of Donald Trump. Now, even Tom Brady and Robert Kraft from the Patriots have been critical of the NASCAR poster boy. Again, I don’t think anyone should be sitting out the national anthem. The national anthem and Donald Trump aren’t even remotely connected because he’s never once done anything patriotic in his life. He never served. He never sacrificed to fight for freedom. There’s not one single act in Donald Trump’s life which reflects service of country or anything of a nature of him doing anything which doesn’t serve his individual self interest.

So I wouldn’t confuse patriotism with Donald Trump. He avoids creditors through the nuance of our bankruptcy laws. He buys or leases trophy wives. No one for sure knows what he’s done with his taxes. I would guess this piece of shit laundered money in Wilbur Ross’s bank in Cypress or at least had assets bundled with Manafort. He moves heavily on married women, takes them furniture shopping, and then of course tries to fuck them like a bitch. You go NASCAR, you go boys. Know who attend your events. Maybe Saban should go all white with the Crimson Tide. Roll Tide. Go all white and see if you can beat Vanderbilt next season.

What I’m saying is don’t ever let this piece of dog shit alter your personal love of freedom and the American Dream. He’s not worth it.

Do we have a lot of lazy stupid white people in this country who haven’t been able to come to terms with globalization and why their lazy dumbass children have been left behind? Sure we do. But that’s on them because they didn’t raise their children right and instill a work ethic worthy of the American Dream. But don’t ever lose sight that for whatever America is working through right now it’s still the best thing going.

I was just kidding about moving to Toronto. It’s lovely, but fuck that. I’m an American!

How Carmelo Ended Up in OKC

This is a one year the future is now deal. Now way a small market team like OKC could keep these three stars beyond this year, but it makes for an intriguing NBA basketball season in Mystery, Alaska.

Can Carmelo put his ego to the side and play the Harden role? If I’m Billy Donovan, I start Patterson and bring Carmelo off the bench like Brooks did with Harden in 2012. There’s only so much iso ball you can play with these three together on the floor. Sure, I want Westbrook and Carmelo together at times, but to beat this Warriors team you have to possess a bench that scores with their bench units. BTW–you almost always see Durant or Curry sneaking out on the floor with those bench units. Fuck starting, it’s about winning a ring and who’s on the floor in the last eight minutes of the game. I’d play Carmelo 28-30 minutes a game and use him in multiple sets with various personnel.

But first, here’s Adrian Woj explaining how Sam Presti landed Carmelo in OKC. In essence, it was a free agent signing since Carmelo waived the no trade clause in his contract. Biggest free agent splash in Thunder history no doubt.