I love tough physical defense. What I don’t like is when Patrick Beverly goes low at the knees of another player. This is the line between hard-nosed and being a dirty player.
I used to defend Patrick Beverly. But I can’t anymore.
Again, there’s a line between being dirty and intent to injure—especially when it involves the knees of another player.
If Beverly did this shit on the ice in the NHL he would have already been beaten half to death. Football players wouldn’t tolerate this bullshit either. Neither would baseball players. He’d be hit with a baseball at his next at bat.
If Adam Silver isn’t going to take care of this then some team needs to hire an enforcer with the express intent of helping Patrick Beverly understand what a dirty play is and isn’t.
The whole night was surreal. It truly was and not just basketball wise.
I went downtown with two of my nephews to celebrate their birthdays at the German beer hall Fassler’s Hall. We figured it would be a racous basketball crowd. It did turn out to be raucous, but not because of the Thunder.
We got there ten minutes before tip and found a wall to wall sea of a fervent Drew Edmonson supporters attending a political fundraiser/speech. The place was packed, but not with basketball fans. This did not daunt me, instead we went into the midst of the crowd and listened to Drew Edmonson talk of why Oklahoma ranks near dead last in everything in which you don’t won’t to rank near dead last in. He spoke of the Step Up Oklahoma program which was basically started by Republicans who were so embarrassed by the eight years of Mary Fallin in Oklahoma that even they couldn’t remain passive in ultra red Oklahoma. Ultra red Oklahoma which by the way is the only state in the Union in which Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t carry one single county in three different presidential elections. Only Oklahoma of the fifty states can lay claim to that dubious distinction.
It was an interesting speech. A good one actually. Edmondson urged Oklahoma to turn a new leaf. To smarten up and become a better state. Good luck with that. I thought about going up to him and telling him of my plans in Washington Park in Denver, but didn’t have the heart.
So then the speech ends just right at tip and the place pretty much empties. I kid you not. These people had no interest in staying to watch the Thunder in what is usually the best sports bar in downtown OKC to watch an NBA game.
So the three of us just basically sit at the bar for the next two hours drinking beer and delighting in the German cuisine. It was like owning Fassler’s Hall for a night.
Typically, the Thunder come out and loaf thru the first half. They give up 67 points in the first half to a Clippers team which will probably be a team fighting for the 8th seed sometime in early April. Since I’m owning the bar on this night…I’m dropping F bombs all over the place.
Fuck them. Fuck this. Fuck Billy Donovan. And fuck Clay Bennett for allowing Sam Presti to hire Billy Donovan.
My nephews smiled and ignored me. They played the nephew role to perfection and allowed their crazy uncle to rant in public.
So then the most interesting thing happened. That being, the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled their collective heads out of their asses and actually played 24 minutes of basketball the right way.
Imagine that…24 minutes of smart basketball by this group.
I’ll start with this. Russell Westbrook actually looked like Maurice Cheeks for these twenty four minutes. He ran like the wind. He played defense like he did back at UCLA before he became a clothing brand. He hustled. He didn’t chuck stupid three point shots. He showed what he’s capable of when he really wants to bring his lunch pail to the arena.
THIS IS THE RUSSELL WESTBROOK I’VE BEEN WAITING TO SEE!
And here’s the thing…he’s teammates followed his lead. Funny how that works, eh. When the superstar decides to bring his lunch pail the team follows.
Paul George was excellent. Adams was good. Jerami Grant as a starter was the Jerami Grant I expected to see this season even though he did attempt three threes. Patterson and Schroeder were excellent off the bench.
And Terrance Ferguson pretending to be Andre Roberson played 26 minutes and was +34. Are you kidding me? Terrance Ferguson was +34 against an NBA team.
On the night, OKC decided to put it’s sado-self abusing tendencies in a sack and play the right way. The Thunder only attempted 17 threes and made 9 of them. They shot 51% from the field and for the first night this season didn’t embarrass themselves at the free throw line. They ran like the wind. They turned the Clippers over time after time in a third period which gives Thunder Nation some hope their team isn’t the dumbest team in the NBA.
So the Thunder finally win by something like a 128-110 margin and pull themselves all the way up to the 11th seed at 2-4.
Little steps. Little victories. It could be worse. We could be Houston Rockets fans. Enjoy the Carmelo Anthony experiment, Houston. You stupid motherfuckers. Good luck with that. If only the Warriors would sign Carmelo the rest of the league could hope someone other than the Warriors would win the Championship this basketball season.
So here I am…sitting at my Thunder rogue blog keyword and for the first time this season thinking maybe there’s a chance Russell Westbrook has decided he might want to be more like Maurice Cheeks than a millennial fashion brand.
We’ll see how long this lasts.
The Thunder are in Charlotte on Thursday night to play Kemba and the Hornets.
It never should have taken John Dorsey this long. Hue Jackson never should have coached this Browns team a single game this season. Hue Jackson won ‘one’ football game in two complete seasons in Cleveland. Let’s be clear here, because I’m on the verge of wanting Billy Donovan fired as the OKC Thunder head coach and he’s won 55, 47, and 48 games in his three previous seasons in coaching the Thunder.
Coaching at the major league level in professional sports is a performance driven occupation. A very highly paid occupation I might add. I don’t give a shit if Hue Jackson and Billy Donovan are the two nicest guys to ever walk the planet humming ‘Que Sera’ hand in hand.
This is about winning.
This is about changing the loser culture of the Cleveland Browns. There are no doomed teams in professional sports. The Browns are not a doomed sports franchise…just a shitty one because losing has been accepted for so long.
If franchises were doomed then tell me why and how the Warriors, the Red Sox, and the New England Patriots went from losers to dynasties?
Tell me how that happened?
You know how they did it? They put smart people in charge, spent money, and decided their culture would not be satisfied with being mediocre.
Hue Jackson never should have coached these Browns a minute this season. And Billy Donovan might be nicer than Mr. Rogers, but this is about winning. Winning begats winning.
At some point, some person in charge of the Cleveland Browns had to draw a line in the sand and simply say, “We will not continue to be the worst franchise in professional sports.”
To me…a realistic goal for this Brown season was to win six games. Six was the number I had circled for America’s Team. And I’m going to guess that was close to what John Dorsey had circled as well. Win six games and then draft some better offensive linemen and get another wideout to replace the departed Josh Gordon. I like the defense. They will get better.
There’s no way I see Lincoln Riley in Cleveland. If Riley were to go the pro route I could see him in either Pittsburgh or Dallas, but not with the Browns. Lincoln Riley with Antonio Brown…oh, boy.
So…D coordinator Greg Williams has been made the new offensive coordinator. You know who I would hire as the new O coordinator…Todd Monken the former O State coordinator who is now the coordinator for the Tampa Bay Bucs. Todd Monken and Baker Mayfield would thrive together. Trust me on this. Both are cocky and confident in their abilities. Baker Mayfield would love Todd Monken.
I’m not stunned this happened. Only stunned it took this long.
Todd Monken—Tampa Bay Bucs offensive coordinator, 2018 preseason
You knew it was over when the Dodgers blew a four run lead late in Game 4. You could just feel the air ease out of the Dodgers. They were done and the soon to be world champions from Boston would only need one more game. The same Boston team which won three of their post-season games on the road in Houston to defeat the world champion Astros. These Red Sox are a tough group to deal with on a baseball diamond.
These Red Sox will go down in history as special because of their toughness and all the runs they scored in post season play with two outs. Plus, the manner in which David Price changed the narrative on his post season pitching career. It’s a happy ending in New England as they now get a winter of Tom Brady, Brad Stevens’s Celtics, and a Boston Bruins team which could all conceivably make their league finals. Best sports town in America is easily Boston in 2018.
I felt bad for Clayton Kershaw at the end. His legacy as a post season pitcher will still be questioned even if he is one of the greatest regular season pitchers of all-time. You wonder what’s going through his mind right now other than disappointment. David Price’s gain was his loss on the biggest stage of their sport.
I could only half-heartedly watch the Thunder beat the Phoenix Suns even though there were some bright spots like Nerlens Noel, Pat Patterson, and the fact Russell Westbrook didn’t attempt a three point shot the entire game given he could shoot a layup against the lowly Suns whenever he wanted to do the work.
There is a sad irony however when you look at the current NBA standings and see both Oklahoma City and Houston near the bottom of the West at 1-4 currently. Sad for Westbrook and Paul George, and equally sad for Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and James Harden as all five of them are still searching for an NBA championship.
When I looked at Kershaw I thought of Russell Westbrook and what might be his legacy at the end of his career. Kershaw is at least on a team which is getting to the World Series, while Westbrook hasn’t been able to get out of the first round since Kevin Durant departed Oklahoma City. Sports legacies are a funny thing. They really are. Barry Sanders never won a post season game in his glorious NFL career with the Detroit Lions, but he’s still regarded as perhaps right there with Jim Brown as the greatest running back of all-time. While Dolphin QB Dan Marino never won a championship as well yet is never mentioned much as one of the game’s greatest QB’s despite his regular season stats. Funny how the narrative on legacies can go at times.
But for me, this Boston team won’t be remembered for individual feats but rather how as a team their collective will and resolve never waivered from the first day of the season until the very last out of the World Series.
If you love baseball this is a team you’ll remember for the right reasons.
Another great weekend of sports and quite frankly up until me writing this entry I haven’t given the still winless Thunder much of a thought. I’ve watched every out of the two (actually three) World Series games. Boston should either win the Series tonight or in Game 6. See what I mean about how Alex Cora manages? Like on the edge and his players respond to it. They take on his attitude as a team. They never back down. That’s what the Thunder need in a head coach, a bit of a street fighter instead of someone that Sam Presti just feels won’t ever threaten his decisions as GM.
After Alex Cora, Dave Joerger is the next name on my short list. Joerger is the current Sacramento King coach and former coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, plus he worked his ass off through the D League to earn an NBA head coaching job. Kind of like a Quin Synder type. If Snyder would ever leave Utah…. in a heartbeat he’d be on my shortlist for the Thunder as well. So–theses are the first two names on my shortlist after Alex Cora..1 Dave Joerger, 2 Quin Snyder, 3 still thinking—-maybe a college coach. You may think I’m crazy, but I really like the young new coach at O State Mike Boynton. I want to see what he does this second season at O State though even though he’s had a great recruiting class already for 2019. He knows the game. He’s a players coach. Great communicator. He’s old school. Players do what he tells them to do. I’m trying to visualize Mike Boynton coaching Russell Westbrook. I’m trying to visualize the same with Joerger and Snyder.
The 0-4 Thunder host the 1-4 Phoenix Suns tonight. Umm, you know, if the Thunder play like shit tonight and lose, I’m not sure what I would do as an owner. I’m not sure who the next guy up on the Thunder staff would be as an interim replacement. I mean, Scott Brooks was on PJ’s staff. That’s how he became the Thunder head coach. If OKC plays like shit tonight…. as an owner I could see myself getting lost in the moment and making a change. Mark Bryant? Steven talks glowingly about Thunder assistant coach Mark Bryant in his book. I love Maurice, but he’s always struggled in the head coach role in the NBA. I don’t know. This is why I wanted Nick Collison on the Thunder staff this season. I wanted Nick to be here just in case, but Nick needed time with his daughter and his family. I wonder what Nick is thinking beyond this year? Nick is on my list if he wants to be on my list. He’d be the perfect assistant head coach if he doesn’t want to head coach. Just stringing thoughts together here.
LET’S GO CLEVELAND BROWNS…BEAT THE STEELERS!
I like Joerger. I like the way he handles himself with the press. He’s now head coached in two small NBA markets…Memphis and Sacramento. Joerger and Westbrook….would it work? Unless you plan on trading Westbrook this is the first question you ask.
This is my first Cleveland Browns-OKC Thunder Game Day Music same day selection–so it needs to be good.
So I’ve slept on it and it hurts me to write this on my blog which was ostensibly started to outline a book about the history of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
You see, I’m not Sam Anderson from the NY Times writing a trendy NY Times bestseller on the history of the Oklahoma City Thunder intertwined with the history of this city I’ve grown up in and grown old in as well. I’m not Sam Anderson. This is personal. This is part of me whether I like it or not. This is who I am. The ending I’ll eventually write will be the truth whether I like it or not.
I watched the brief presser Russell gave after the game. Kudos to Erik Horne the young newsoksports Thunder beat writer. Erik asked the tough questions of Westbrook that I wasn’t hearing from other ‘writers’ in the room. From this point forward during this season I’m going to occasionally give out helmet stickers to local writers like they do on ESPN during college football game day. Erik Horne gets a helmet sticker. Jenni Carlson got one yesterday for the story on Marcus Smart’s mother.
A real writer has to do what Erik did and what Tramel usually has to do… that being, ask the tough questions.
So…given what I just watched last night in that last five minutes of the loss to the Celtics I ask myself this question in regards to Russell Westbrook…Is Russell Westbrook a broken basketball player? Is he coachable?
I don’t think Russell Westbrook is a broken basketball player, just a very unique one who is driven to his own detriment sometimes by trying to do too much.
But here’s what I think Russell Westbrook needs, that being, a head coach who will not tolerate Russell not playing the game the right way for 48 minutes. A head coach who will say, “I’m the head coach, you’re my point guard. You’re an extension of me. When you look stupid, I look stupid. I don’t enjoy being made to look stupid, Russell. Are we good? Do we have an understanding?”
What do you think Alex Cora would have said to Russell after he took that stupid shot with 27 seconds left? What do you think Bill Belicick would have said after that shot? What do you think Pop would have said after that shot?
There’s enough space on here for me to write how many times they would would have said, “Have you lost your fucking mind?”
Russell Westbrook isn’t broken, he just needs a head coach who will not tolerate what we saw last night at the end with the shot selection. I was stunned when I saw that Billy Donovan said the shot Westbrook took with 27 seconds left was a good look.
Jesus Murphy. Billy the Enabler Donovan. Are you kidding me?
Russell Westbrook doesn’t need an enabler, he needs a coach who will tell it like it is and be honest with him and the press whether it’s the convenient thing to do or not.
I’ve been around sports my whole life. I’ve been around very smart sports people. I know what I’m talking about.
Would I fire Billy Donovan right now?
No. That’s not fair and I always lean to the extreme side of patience with coaches.
But what I would write is that it makes no sense whatsoever to pay all this payroll for a team which has a head coach who to date hasn’t been able to help Russell Westbrook cross this last bridge.
Some might say, “Well, maybe Westbrook just isn’t coachable and this is the finished product per Russell Westbrook.”
I don’t buy that because I haven’t seen anything in Westbrook to date which would indicate he enjoys losing and is averse to hard work. Plus, I don’t think he’s selfish. His major flaw is he tries to do too much when sometimes less is the better option.
If I’m Sam Presti this morning I’m not firing Billy Donovan just yet, but I’m putting a short list together of available coaches who might be able to help Russell Westbrook cross this last hurdle as a point guard. I would seriously hire Alex Cora if he’d take the job. I can always find an assistant coach to run practice. Those guys are a dime a dozen. Those guys are everywhere.
But if I’m Sam Presti I’m getting my short list ready.
Sam Presti meet Alex Cora. Do it. You’re not going anywhere with what you have now. Why not?
This was uncomfortable to watch if you’re a real Thunder fan. It hurts because it confirms what at least I already knew in regards to Russell Westbrook as a point guard trying to take his game to the team championship level.
I like Russell Westbrook. Like I’ve written on here before he’s the exact same age as my son. There are absolutely things about Russell Westbrook I adore and it hurts me as a fan of the game, let alone the Thunder, to observe him not being able to cross this last hurdle.
I just want to take some of Maurice Cheeks’s fairy dust DNA and sprinkle it over Russell. I do.
These final four minutes in this 101-95 loss to the Celtics eerily reminded me of those final four minutes in the Game 6 loss to the Warriors. To me this was that dramatic even though this was only Game 4 in a 82 game regular season. Because of what it showed. What it showed was that Russell still has trouble calibrating time, situation, and the decisions which need to be made in the final four minutes in a meaningful game against elite competition.
In that final 4:57 of play the Celtics outscored the Thunder by a 16-3 margin. Just brutal and Paul George was brutal down the stretch as well. So..in a supporting role as Kevin Durant in Game 6 versus the Warriors–Paul George played Durant to perfection on this night going basketless in the final period and doing what I asked him not to do as Billy Donovan’s make believe assistant head coach earlier in the week…namely going invisible into the night when it mattered.
The Thunder for the first time are 0-4 in franchise history. I don’t know what to write. This isn’t on the role players at all. Patterson, Abrines, Diallo, Grant, Noel, Ferguson, and Adams all played well enough for the Thunder to win the game. They did.
But here’s what sticks in my mind the most, that being, when Brad Stevens called a timeout with 34.5 seconds left and the score tied 95 all…. There was no doubt in my mind he would draw up a winning play and the Celtics would bury a three point shot with a perfectly run ATO (After Time Out) play. Just in case you wondered…ATO is something pros like and me and Antonio use in our post game breakdowns. I love Antonio.
Conversely when Billy Donovan called a timeout with 27 seconds left there was little doubt in my mind Russell would be chucking a hurried three with little thought behind the game situation. Color me fucking brilliant. Just stunning the lack of composure and Donovan’s inability as the head coach to be able to communicate with Russell what would constitute a good shot under the circumstances.
As I watched Antonio on the post game he came as close to saying what I’m writing without crossing a bridge which might have gotten him in trouble.
Don’t do it, Antonio. I’m here for you.
Do I think Billy Donovan should be coaching this team?
No, I don’t. Because here’s the thing, the most important thing the Thunder head coach needs to be able to do is take Russell Westbrook’s game to the next level and it’s not happening. Without Russell’s game going to the next level this is a first round loss team again and again. Let Traber coach the team and at least it would be entertaining instead of being painful to watch.
There’s four guys who could do this in my estimation, those four being Pop, Kerr, Carlisle, and Stevens. But they all have jobs and Alex Cora is a baseball manager of the soon to be world champion Boston Red Sox. There’s two others, Phil and Red Auerbach, but Phil is too old and Red is in heaven with a cigar in his mouth.
Eddie Sutton in his prime would have been a great coach for Russell. But he’s not available either.
I don’t know. But I know the Billy Donovan experiment isn’t working.
3rd Rule of Coaching is one no coach is immune to.
The 2-2 Boston Celtics are in town tonight to play the league’s highest paid winless team in the NBA. Vegas has Boston as a one point road favorite. Interesting, very interesting.
Celtics to date look like they’re not all that motivated themselves. We’ll see.
If I’m Brad Stevens my scouting report to my Celtics team on the Thunder is simple:
“They’re not good defensively. If we take the paint away from them and take away the elbow jumper by Westbrook they really struggle shooting wide open threes. The one thing OKC is good at is hitting the offensive boards. So, guys, just keep them off our defensive boards and don’t let them get out in transition for layups. Where’s Marcus? Marcus, the second you’re on the floor start fucking with Westbrook’s head. Other than Pat Beverly you do this better than anyone in the league. Let’s get a win and get our season back on track, men.”
I have no idea what Billy Donovan says to his ballclub. No idea. It must not be about basketball.
It’s a great time to be a Denverite if you love the snow, the mountains, and the sports teams. Wouldn’t you know it…as the Thunder have plummeted to being the only winless team in the Western Conference, the trending Nuggets are 4-0 and one of only two undefeated teams in the West. And in my second circled North American city to escape to get away from the Trump crazies–the Toronto Raptors are 5-0 with Kawhi Leonard. I honestly don’t know if I can live in Oklahoma more than three more years.
I knew Oklahoma was regressed, but I never realized how regressed until this whole Trump thing came about. I thought there was an inherit goodness in the people here. A quiet decency in people, but I’m not as sure right now. It’s very unnerving that people can still support this Trump person as each day passes. I’m not even going to mention the bombs. It’s too much for me right now.
Sports in Denver…it would be like heaven for me. The Rockies are contenders. The Nuggets are on the upswing. The Avalanche are young, hungry and should for the second year in a row make the playoffs. I don’t need the Broncos. I’ll always be an OU football fan first and there’s the downtown Denver bar called Shoney’s which hosts the OU Denver Alumni Association for every OU game. Plus, on the NFL front…I have my Cleveland Browns. I don’t need the Denver Broncos. I have Baker Mayfield, John Elway has Case Keenum. He can deal with that as he may.
And then there’s the skiing, the trout fishing, the biking along Cherry Hill Creek, the walks in Washington Park with the diva lab Pauli at my side asking, “Why did we wait so long to make the move, Mike? Oklahoma was stifling me culturally.”
And the restaurants, the coffee shops, the sports bars, and of course cheap uber everywhere so you don’t drink and drive.
I totally get what Kevin Durant was feeling right before he left. I get it. He should have told Russell and Nick though straight up on that Thursday night dinner. In hindsight, that’s the only thing Kevin did which was wrong. I think he owed Russell and Nick that as friends. He didn’t owe these white Trump dumbasses anything—as in nothing.
Go I guess we play the Celtics tonight. I just read a very poignant piece Jenni Carlson wrote about the passing of Marcus Smart’s mother. It was beautiful. Jenni’s writing has gotten better. She has more nuance and depth in what she’s now writing probably because she’s a mom herself and better understands what life is really all about. Good for Jenni Carlson.
I’m still a Thunder fan. There’s no way I could see myself ever being a fan of the Nuggets over the Thunder, but as a Denverite, other than family and friends, it’s not like I would see myself missing Oklahoma.
Coaching is coaching. It’s primarily about enchancing a player’s overall performance to a level which will lead to the team being successful. Motivation is a big part of the puzzle. As per Rule No. 2 of Coaching … a coach should coach thru his own unique personality and character.
For instance, the jovial, tough minded Vince Lombardi was my favorite coach growing up. But his exact personality opposite, the stoic Tom Landry was extremely successful as well winning a ton of games and several Super Bowls.
There isn’t just one set way to motivate players, because if a player isn’t driven from within it’s not happening. That doesn’t come from a coach, that comes from a player’s DNA and life history.
Every coach motivates differently.
Brad Stevens doesn’t motivate players like Steve Kerr does. Greg Popovich doesn’t motivate players like Phil Jackson did. Every coach is uniquely different even if they’ve picked up certain attributes from coaching mentors along the way thru their coaching career path.
Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens are both current NBA coaches who came from college programs into the NBA. Neither has gotten his team to an NBA Finals in their time in the NBA. Neither has crossed that hurdle.
Neither are my favorite NBA coach. That would be Pop. You know why? He’s the coach I find most interesting as a person. He’s someone I’d want to have dinner with and talk about every topic imaginable under the sun. He’d make me a better person and a better player. Steve Kerr would be my second favorite coach for the same reasons.
Obviously Billy Donovan could motivate his players at the University of Florida. You don’t win two national championships if you can’t coach and motivate. I’ve yet to see this though from Donovan with professional players at the NBA level. His style seems awkward to me from the outside looking in. I don’t get the feeling his players have bought into him at this level while I do feel Brad Steven’s players have bought into his philosophy.
The Boston Celtics are in Oklahoma City tomorrow night to play the last place Thunder. The thing which puzzles me the most about the Thunder is that they were the biggest disappointment in the NBA last season, yet there doesn’t at all seem to be a team attitude of ‘we have something to prove this season’. None of that is visible. You would think they’d be embarrassed about last season, but it’s as if they don’t really have any urgency.
It probably doesn’t help that the Thunder play in a college market where they take little if any tough comments from the local media other than perhaps when Barry Tramel writes something bordering on the critical. Anotherwords, this team very seldom if ever takes much heat from writers like it would if they played in a major league pro town like say Boston. I’ve always to a certain extent thought that’s hurt the Thunder in some regards.
Tramel is the only writer in the market other than myself I read. That may sound arrogant coming from a guy who writes on an obscure rogue blog, but it’s the way I feel. And it’s primarily the reason I stick with my blog in that I want someone else locally to read in regards to the Thunder other than Tramel.
It is what it is.
I thought this video would be timely with Brad Stevens coming to town tomorrow night.