Dallas Mavs Visit OKC Thunder on New Year’s Eve

The NBA did indeed rule their crew blew the call on Friday night. No big surprise there unless you’re blind. And no big surprise to me Matt Craig of the Daily Thunder and Bret Dawson at newsoksports wrote about the manner in which Billy Donovan blew it by going too heavily with Alex Abrines.

Before I move on to tonight’s game with Dallas– I want to write a bit more on the Abrines thing and why I think it was such a bad piece of bench management by Billy Donovan. All four major sports have what I call specialty players. Hockey has penalty killers and power play guys. This doesn’t mean they get to play even strength situations in meaningful situations. Football has special team players…kickoff, punt, extra point, nickel back situations on defense, specialty third down players on offense, etc. Baseball has closers, middle relief pitchers, pinch hitters, DH’s, guys a manger will platoon against either left or right handing pitching, etc. None of these niche positions above equate with starting.

Alex Abrines is a speciality player. He is not an honest two zone basketball player in spite of what the knuckleheads on Fox might want to tell their viewers. Alex Abrines is on this roster to do one thing…make three point shots at somewhere hopefully at a clip no lower than 35% and maybe hopefully at some point as high as 45%. Alex Abrines should not be starting in place of Paul George when the opponent is an extremely talented team like the Milwaukee Bucks. This is where you go with a player with some athleticism like say Jerami Grant or Josh Huestis. Maybe…in certain situations where you’re playing against a really bad team like the Memphis Grizzlies you can get away with starting Abrines, but why would you do it when you have two much better options.

I have no idea if Sam Presti was part of this decision, only Donovan and Presti know that. But here’s what I know, OKC already was at a disadvantage without Paul George, basically–the Thunder put itself in an even worse situation with Abrines where they played 4 on 5 basketball to start the game against the high flying Bucks. Good NBA coaches don’t do this. Especially NBA coaches who have a team which got out to a slow start this season and from this point forward need to try to win basketball games.

Yeah, I get the fact Abrines needs his confidence stroked in that he’s been the major disappointment on this team so far, but as a coach you do something like that against a team with a talent level where Alex Abrines and the team both have a chance to be successful. OKC not only lost the game, but now you would think Abrines’ confidence level can’t be much because here we are all talking about what an absolute piece of shit game he played against the Bucks.

Billy Donovan needs to step up as an NBA head coach. This loss is as much on him as it is on the NBA crew who missed the obvious out of bounds with 1.3 seconds left.

Tonight will be such an interesting game in light of what happened on Friday. The Dallas Mavs aren’t very good, but they’ve won their last three games and have one of the top three NBA coaches in the league in Rick Carlisle. I go 1 Pop, 2 Carlisle, and 3 Steve Kerr currently on my Top Three NBA Coaches Dashboard.

So, as a passionate NBA fan…this game holds great interest for me. Billy Donovan’s team has stepped up for him in the month of December. Now he needs to step up for them. It’s kind of a bilateral thing, if you know what I mean.


This is Carlisle right after the Mavs won the 2011 NBA Championship over the Miami Heat. Great interview.

My Personal Letter to Senator Al Franken

So…after reading Al Franken’s book…Giant of the Senate, I wrote him a letter on email. It went something like this…

Dear Senator Franken:

Some friends of mine gave me a copy of your book ‘Giant of the Senate’ and I’m writing to tell you how much I enjoyed the book. Even though I don’t consider myself a liberal per se…I do believe in climate change, globalization, equal rights for all, and believe it or not, I voted for Barack Obama twice. I know…someone from Oklahoma reads…who would have thought?

In the end, I couldn’t vote for Hillary though, and I instead voted for John Kasich. So—we agree on some things, disagree on some other things. This is what makes us Americans… right?

This whole thing with you resigning disturbs me greatly. You just don’t strike me as an abuser of women. I mean, it’s not like you said, “She was married. I moved on her heavily. I took her furniture store shopping, and of course, I then tried to fuck her like a bitch.” You just really don’t strike me that way. You really don’t. You strike me as a guy who used to write comedy on SNL and who’s actions have been taken out of context.

This whole thing with these Dem women forcing you to resign kind of upsets me in that we live in turbulent historical times. I watched the Judiciary hearings for the confirmation of Sessions, Price, DeVoss, and Pruitt—and quite frankly, you were the best DEM senator asking questions. You should have been a lawyer, you missed your calling. Trust me, I know a good cross examination when I see one.

If you say you didn’t abuse women, then you shouldn’t resign. Period. Here’s why, because most of your constituents voted for you twice and voted for YOU TO REPRESENT THEM. Not the National Organization of Women…they voted for you to represent them. PERIOD. End of discussion.

So what I’m saying is…do in your heart what you know to be the right thing.

In closing, you should never have listened to your aides when they told you not to send that note to Ted Cruz telling him what a douchebag he truly is. Isn’t it amazing how a Harvard liberal like you and an Oklahoma moderate like me could have this many things in common? Again, the it’s American thing.

At some point, if the Democratic Party wants to start winning back control of the House, the Senate, and the White House there needs to be that flash of genius moment when the party comes to terms with the fact not all 330 million people were conceived in an Ivy League sperm bank. I think you know what I mean.

I know you’re struggling with this. Do your best.

Best wishes,

Bucks End Thunder Streak at Six, 97-95

This is why I have a blog called okcthunderground.com. This is why because… I’m fairly certain guys like Royce Young and Erik Horne aren’t going to do the right thing and tell the truth because they’re young and they need their jobs. I haven’t read what either wrote, but I did watch the presser with Billy Donovan and heard some of the questions from the two ‘aforementioned writers’. So…again, I have no idea what they ultimately wrote. Maybe they’ll surprise me.

But here’s what I’m going write.

There are two storylines from what happened last night in OKC’s heartbreaking 97-95 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The first storyline is that game officials totally blew the call on the baseline and OKC would have either won the game in regulation or gone on to live at least another five minutes in overtime.

Fair enough?

The second storyline is that Brian Davis ‘kind of’ got it right when he said, “It never should have come to that.”

But what Brian Davis didn’t say is that Billy Donovan was guilty of coaching malpractice by starting Alex Abrines in place of the scratched Paul George.

This game was in essence decided in the first period when the Bucks ripped and rolled to a 38-18 lead after twelve minutes of play.

Consider what I write. The Milwaukee Bucks are a team of freak athleticism and length. They really are. And given that fact and the knowledge Alex Abrines can’t defend my eighty-two year old mother…. this maybe was a time maybe the head coach needed to think outside the box a bit. Keep in mind, Alex Abrines was a putrid negative 19 against the Raptors on Wednesday in a little over six minutes of play. He rightfully never saw the floor again in that game.

But knowing this, Billy Donovan went right ahead and started Alex Abrines against the high flying Bucks. And he not only started Abrines, but he went with Abrines for 9:24 of playing time all told. Nine and a half minutes Billy Donovan allowed Alex Abrines to do absolutely nothing. Oh, but he did do something. He took one shot which didn’t even graze the rim and outdid himself from Wednesday night with a -24 in nine minutes of play. Here’s what this means–in fifteen minutes of play in these last two games…Alex Abrines is 0-1 from the field and -43.

And, you see, that’s the real storyline here. Billy Donovan derailed his own basketball team. Sure, four missed critical free throws and a lane violation didn’t help-but Billy Donovan had three other options other than Abrines.

He could have started Josh Huestis. He could have started Jerami Grant. He could have even started Ray Felton and gone really, really small from the get-go to answer the guard tandem of Bledsoe and Middleton, but Billy Donovan and/or Sam Presti went with Alex Abrines. And if you think I’m stretching it here…you’ll notice like on Wednesday night–Abrines never once again saw the floor in the second half because every jacket on that Thunder bench knew they had messed up.

As far as the rest of the game? I thought OKC fought hard and showed some grit from fighting back from that deficit. They never quit and they played their asses off and on this night deserved much, much better not only from Leon Wood, but more importantly—from Billy Donovan.

He let his team down. I mean, okay you started him, but to allow 9:24 of this to transpire all told is unforgiveable from an NBA coach who’s got a contending team. Simply unforgiveable.

I like Billy Donovan. Like I wrote before, he seems like a wonderful human being, just maybe one who should be coaching in the SEC instead of the NBA.

Not many college coaches have successfully made the transition to the NBA game. Larry Brown did. It appears Brad Stevens will. But Lon Kruger didn’t. John Calipari didn’t. Fred Hoiberg hasn’t and neither has Billy Donovan considering in his two and half seasons so far he’s had the luxury of coaching Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Victor Oladipo. If you weren’t counting, that’s seven all-star caliber players if you cut Serge some slack.

Tough to have to write this recap like this, but in all candor that’s the way I see this….the Thunder have an elite NBA roster with a college coach who’s comfort zone probably is tilted more towards coaching college kids than multi-millionaires with agents.

Thunder host the Dallas Mavs on Sunday night. The Mavs have one of the worst teams in the league with one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Carlisle. We saw how that went the first time these two teams met in late November as Dallas rolled the Thunder.

Thunder Game Day music is going to be a bitch on Sunday. A real bitch.

Thunder Game Day Music: Milwaukee Bucks, Dec 29th

The Thunder woke up this morning with the longest current winning streak in the NBA at six…and back but one single game in the loss column to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the battle for the Northwest Division. Milwaukee is a talented team, but there’s no reason for this streak to end in December. This is the month the schedule made this kind of run possible. 14-3 in December is the goal. This is where a contending team takes a deep breath and resets itself mentally.

Winning isn’t a sometime thing, boys…it’s an everyday thing.

Let’s go win!

What Would Bobby Kennedy Be Saying Right Now?

As I watch the whole Russiagate thing unfold exactly as I thought it would with Flynn and Manafort being indicted and flipped—I’ve restrained myself from putting all that on my blog up to this point. I was raised by a courtroom lawyer, a very good one. It didn’t take Vince Bugliosi or F Lee Bailey to see where this was going. This will play out as it plays out in spite of ourselves because of one reason…the law.

So I’m sitting here and thinking America or at least I need a pep talk beyond John Kasich. Something to remind me of what it should truly mean to be an American.

This is pretty good if you’ve never seen it.

Thunder Roll Raptors for 6th Straight, 124-107

Last year, Serge Ibaka made his initial Chesapeake Energy Arena homecoming as a member of another NBA team. He ended up being the story with a career night and the game winner. Last night, his Toronto Raptors appeared in Oklahoma City rumored to be one of the best teams in the East. In case you weren’t paying attention, Serge was on the floor for 26:31. I actually never noticed him….because he didn’t do anything. In fact, the only human possibly more invisible on the floor was the Thunder’s own Alex Abrines who went for 0 points and a stunning negative 19 in 6:33 of playing time in the first half… which I would hope Billy Donovan seriously regrets ever occurred.

My points?

What Serge discovered last night was this Thunder team and that Thunder team from a year ago are worlds apart. What I hope Billy Donovan either learned or will eventually learn is that there’s no reason whatsoever for Alex Abrines to see the floor unless OKC is in a desperate situation. To Donovan’s or an assistant coach’s credit, Abrines did not see the floor in the second half.

I thought I would get my rant out of the way so that the remainder of this recap would contain nothing but gush for how the Thunder played otherwise.

At this point—we almost have to admit a corner has been turned. The Thunder are the hottest team in the NBA right now and playing the best ball. There I said it. Winners of six straight, the Thunder toyed with the Raptors on Wednesday night in a 124-107 romp which never would have been that close if Alex Abrines had stayed glued to the bench with the Thunder in front 32-23 when Russell Westbrook took his first breather.

This is the kind of shit Billy Donovan cannot do once we get to April. There was no need for Abrines to see the floor. The Thunder were rolling, the offense was humming…I play better defense than fucking Alex Abrines and it makes no sense whatsoever to put him on the floor for six minutes when he doesn’t even attempt a shot. I’m sorry, but c’mon. This isn’t the SEC, this is the NBA.

I didn’t actually plan that second rant, but I’m very passionate about how coaches manage a game.

Where was I? Okay…Russell Westbrook was once again magnificent. He’s been magnificent ever since that abortion of basketball reality which occurred in the final six minutes of regulation in Philly. I don’t know if he read my blog, or if Mo Cheeks pulled him aside, or if his father called him after that game…but make this clear…Russell Westbrook has been the best basketball player in the world since those six minutes of hell. Period.

But it’s not just Russell. Paul George and Carmelo are playing their roles to perfection in this run of games which once again has me saying…putting aside the Bad News Bears start—this Thunder roster is either the second or third best roster in the NBA.

Steven Adams. How much do you want to see me gush? I wouldn’t trade him for any center in the West. I just wouldn’t. This is probably what we would have seen from Steven last year, but we didn’t because Durant took off to Oakland to marry Draymond Green and seek human growth as a man…. and Steven’s coming out party was delayed a year after we saw it coming in the 2016 Western Conference Playoff run.

Andre Roberson does so many good things for this team you can’t give up on him. You just hope one of the assistant coaches in right there in Billy Donovan’s ear when April rolls around as far as situational subbing.

You know how I feel about Jerami Grant and Ray Felton. So…it shouldn’t take some sort of Come to Jesus realization these are the Thunder’s best seven players and in the order which I listed them. I actually agree with Billy Donovan as far as Josh Huestis and his growing minutes. I’m fine with how Pat Patterson has been used. From my point of view—Terrance Ferguson should be in the G League…so I’m not advocating him playing makes any difference. And of course…I love Nick Collison whether he plays or not.

So…here the Thunder sit at 20-15 and 12-3 in the month of December. Winners of six straight and somewhat back in the Western Conference standings in a position of relevance. This is who we thought they would be. This is those guys.

When you live in a small market and your team is streaking it’s actually charming how the whole city gets a little bounce in their collective step and vicariously feeds off the team. Our Thunder are on a roll and West Texas Crude closed almost at $60 a barrel yesterday. Not a bad month for Oklahoma City so far.

But here’s the thing, and these guys know it…they can’t take their foot off the gas pedal just because they’ve won six straight. They know this. They know it would be a felony if they don’t become the team in reality they are on paper. Sam Presti knows this. Clay Bennett knows this. And I’m pretty certain Billy Donovan knows this.

Lombardi said winning isn’t a sometime thing. It’s an everyday thing. It’s how you practice. How you think. How you conduct yourself as a man. It’s the whole package wrapped into one.

That’s the next bridge for this basketball team.

Milwaukee Bucks in Oklahoma City on Friday night.

Winning is fun.

John Kasich: Two Paths

I’m a political junkie. Not in any way am I an ideologue though. That’s too harrowing and somewhat requires a narrowed lense of life.

If you were going to pin me down, you might say I’m a fiscal conservative who’s a social liberal. I don’t vote on abortion, gay rights, or the 2nd Amendment for the most part…even though I’m clearly pro-choice, clearly believe in gay rights, and wonder who is it exactly in America that feels they don’t have enough guns currently. None of those issues drive me to vote for or against a candidate usually, because it’s very rare if ever you’re going to find a candidate who aligns perfectly with you on every issue.

I want this in a POTUS… Someone who understands the world, someone who understands America’s place in the world, someone who has enough knowledge to be Commander in Chief, and someone who aspires for all 330 million Americans to have skin in the game as far as pursuing the American Dream. I don’t necessarily stay awake at night worrying about American exceptionalism, but I do think it would be nice to have a White House which doesn’t look like a really, really bad Jerry Springer episode gone even worse.

That’s it. If the Mike Pence’s of the world and those who follow his ilk have their agenda—it’s certainly not mine in that I’m more of a New Testament kind of guy. Wouldn’t a Mike Pence-Mike Huckabee presidency be wonderful for the Christians in America? Note sarcasm dripping off my monitor as I finish paragraph.

When it gets cold, I go on voracious reading sprees. I guess I’m kind of a binge reader. This week I’ve read three excellent books in relation to our ‘current situation’ in regards to Caligula’s hostile takeover of America.

Two of the books are by two conservative and one is by a liberal. So, again I’m not an ideologue. Not in the least. I don’t read what I think I want to hear, because at this point I have no f—king idea exactly what it is I think I want to hear.

Book 1 How in the Hell Did This Happen by PJ O’Rourke. Hilariously funny book which offers a conservative’s view on how Caligula Lite pulled this off. BTW…O’Rourke endorsed Hillary. And double BTW, in case this escaped you, the Koch Brothers didn’t endorse Caligula. Their candidate didn’t win. So…Donald Trump won for other reasons, namely–Hillary Clinton came across the wrong way to a great many Americans….including women.

Book 2 Giant of the Senate by Al Franken Obviously this book was released before Franken’s resignation. Just an excellent book. One I couldn’t put down. He’ll be missed by the Dems because from my perspective he was one of the smarter senators the Dems had/have in office. He always asked the best questions during Judiciary Committee hearings. He should have been a lawyer since he was already at Harvard getting his undergrad degree. Ted Cruz at some point in his lawyer life will aspire to ask questions like Franken asked of Sessions, DeVoss, and Pruitt.

Book 3 Two Paths by John Kasich. I ended up voting for Kasich. I felt his qualifications and personality were more suited to our current needs as a nation in regards to getting pointed back in the right direction. Excellent book as well. I don’t think John Kasich has much of a chance in hell of becoming POTUS, but that’s more on what we have become as opposed to what he could contribute. He’s too boring for the dysfunctional swath of American voters who seemingly decide U.S. elections currently. But still…maybe as a nation we’ll have an epiphany of sorts at some point. Probably not, though. Larry Flynt 2020, right? But at least that would be an upgrade over Caligula.

Thunder Game Day Music: Toronto Raptors, Dec. 27th

I have to be honest, Billy Donovan doesn’t inspire me. I think he’s a wonderful man, a fine human being, and probably a five star husband and father. But he doesn’t inspire me.

I need more from a coach. I need more. But this is Sam Presti’s deal. So here’s the thing, Toronto got beat 98-93 last night in Dallas on the first night of a road back to back. OKC rested. As we know, the Thunder started this season like the Bad News Bears only in the luxury tax though. Games have to be made up in the standings.

Again, this is a run of games which not only should kick start your season, but define it later on when the Thunder get to the goal achieving part of the season.

No more excuses. No more…at least not on this blog.

NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK AND KICK HIM WHEN HE’S DOWN. Let’s go, boys. Jump on the Raptors early, often , and put your foot on their throat and pee in their eye sockets. There is no reason whatsoever for them to think they should win this game. Good, no…great teams don’t allow inferior teams to hang around at home.

Win this game and you have the league’s longest current winning streak at six games. I could care less about Minnesota, San Anontio, Houston, and the punk ass Warriors right now. This is about you and reaching deep within yourselves and becoming the team you should be. No more excuses. Let’s go. Win!

Christopher Cross wearing the Earl Campbell jersey and singing Ride Like the Wind.

Postgame: Thunder vs. Rockets, 112-107

Toronto takes a six game winning streak to Dallas tonight, then visits Oklahoma City tomorrow night on the second night of a road back to back. I think the math is simple for the Thunder…win the Northwest, then see if the team can really, really get on a roll and overtake the Spurs for the No. 3 seed in the West. I hate to be blunt, but it’s apparent to me there’s no excuse for this team to flounder aimlessly anymore this season. We’ve seen what they can do when they come to an arena motivated to play the Warriors and Rockets. Again I will reiterate, a head coach has many hats he has to wear, but by the far the hat with the most importance is the motivational hat. A top third coach in any league has to have the ability to understand each of his players individually and to be able to push the motivational button of each player.

Moving forward…there’s no excuse for mediocrity with this team. Coaching voices are funny things. Each player is different. The bar on this team has been raised. Reaching your ultimate potential is what good coaching is all about. Internship period is over for Billy Donovan. Let’s go. I expect the Thunder to run the remaining table in December.