In current millennial parlance this is what is described as a scheduled loss even though the foe at home was the passive Minnesota Timberwolves who still at times seem to be in a mode of funk following the Jimmy Butler fiasco which would indicate they’re one of the teams in the West a contender shouldn’t lose to at home.
The Thunder just found a way to lose to the Wolves at home by a count of 114-112 on Sunday night at the Peake.
Granted, the game in Salt Lake was a barnburner which felt like a playoff game, but this is one of those games where a legitimate championship contender which should have the biggest team chip on its shoulder from last season finds enough within themselves to not lose to a Wolves team which didn’t have either Jimmy Butler of Jeff Teague on the floor from last season’s playoff team.
This is a prime example of why despite Paul George’s MVP like December and the improved play of both Steven Adams and Jerami Grant … I still don’t view the Thunder as a team with anymore than just a 40-50% chance of getting out of the first round in the West for the third straight season.
The Thunder remind me of a Mike Gundy coached team. They’ll show you a flash here and there, but when push comes to shove they never win the games a team needs to win to win in their own division let alone the big enchilada come springtime in the NBA.
I’m not calling them chokers per se even though they do possess the league’s highest payroll, it’s just something I see in them which indicates to me losing doesn’t kill them. It doesn’t seem to matter all that much. They don’t seem to get sick to their stomach when they kick a game away or don’t show up in the first period for a game like this one against a lesser foe.
Gundy himself says it a millennial thing with his players at O State. Like me, he doesn’t think his players bleed after a loss. This Thunder team to me has never after the departure of Durant had the mindset that a season is a failure with anything short of a Western Conference Finals appearance. They don’t seem to care collectively all that much. It doesn’t seem to at all obsess them like it does with Steph, Klay, Draymond, and Steve Kerr.
Those cats bleed when they lose. Sure, they’ll struggle at times like anyone in an 82 game marathon, but you can tell it matters to their COMPETITIVE INNER PRIDE. The only time they haven’t won the championship in the past four seasons was when they exhausted themselves winning 73 regular season games. Does anyone who watches the Thunder think they could drive themselves like that to set even a regular season standard?
I don’t. Because I think hating to lose permeates from your head coach. It’s in his soul, in his DNA as the leader to subtly thru nuance handle each player in a manner which clearly says…’Ownership has put enough here for this team to be a championship contender. Put up or shut up. Fucking show me.”
That’s how I feel. I fucking hate underachievers. It drives me crazy. I want to be around people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. I don’t see that in this Thunder culture. They want to talk it, but they don’t walk it and that’s just my gut feel on this organization. Too much babysitting.
The math is simple. The Thunder without Durant are 3-8 in post season. They haven’t been relevant team wise in any sort of championship contending type of role. Like it or not for a team which is run by Clay Bennett the OU alpha regent—his NBA basketball team looks the competitive equivalent of Gundy’s O State football program which always wilts when it matters in the end. But that’s okay because Gundy talks to his team like they’re children on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Tell me I’m wrong and I have this wrong, but I see the same thing with the Thunder in that despite the league’s highest payroll they seem okay with end results of mediocrity as far as championship aspirations. Yeah, I get the sustainability part of the equation, but at some point you would hope there’s the collective mindset that winning the big enchilada is why you aspire to play the game at the highest level.
I don’t see that in Oklahoma City.
What I see is a great deal of folksy niceness like you see in Stillwater. Like you see in bowl season when O State plays in the Taco Bell Chalupa Bowl while the Sooners go play a relevant game. That’s what I see.
No one more than me wishes this isn’t what’s there, but I just see a bunch of really nice guys who are okay with underachieving.
And on that note I’ll close with Andre Roberson’s incredibly touching gesture of donating $7,500 dollars of his own money to a local family so they can adopt another child. It made me cry in a good way. I love Andre Roberson.
Such a nice young man. So many nice guys on this team. If this were the United Way or Goodwill they’d be my pick to win the NBA.
Know what I mean?