In the blink of an eye this summer the Oklahoma City Thunder became the Charlotte Hornets. It took less time for the Thunder to become the Hornets this summer than it did for the Sonics to become the Thunder.
The NBA fairytale in Oklahoma City is over. Durant won his two rings in Golden State and has moved on to Brooklyn. Sam Presti’s other two MVPs, Beard and Wild Thing, now find themselves together in Houston still trying to win their first NBA rings with anybody. Paul George and Patrick Patterson are in LA with Kawhi Leonard and Jerry West. Jerami Grant is in Denver.
Serge Ibaka had to leave the United States to win his ring, but he now has one while living in glamorous Toronto. Serge was the smart one.
The Oklahoma City Thunder fanbase still has Florida Gator coach Billy Donovan, a slew of draft picks, and a Canadian guard named Shai to build a franchise around.
There won’t be any agonizing in Oklahoma City this season about playoff seeding position. The Thunder will be fortunate to win thirty games when the roster is depleted even more to garner the best possible chances in landing the top lottery spot.
I have no idea how long Chris Paul and Danilo Galanari will be around, but to be fair maybe Sam Presti doesn’t either.
But two things appear fairly certain…Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Billy Donovan will finish the season in Oklahoma City.
It was a glorious fall for a franchise which as recently as 2012 was voted the best sports franchise in all of pro sports. It has a Sam Anderson boom or bust feel to it even beyond Sam Anderson’s three original epilogues. At some point you feel almost certain Sam Presti will be replaced by Mary Fallin.
Sam Anderson took the time to write the Thunder’s eulogy this past week in a NY Times piece which probably won’t be talked about on the Sports Animal given no one at the Sports Animal would read a ‘subversive-deep state’ paper like the NY Times other than Royce Young who helped Sam Anderson write his book.
But not all is lost. Berry Tramel now has a point guard who will answer his questions and Little Nick Gallo has another NBA player to fall hopelessly in love with before our eyes.
You may or may not be able to read about the team in the Daily Oklahoman as it appears they have no one on payroll who can either deliever a paper or start up an online subscription even if you wanted to read about the team.
The Daily Thunder has evolved into a complete piece of junk which should be set on fire, but I’m glad it’s still there because some of the posters are still funny and it at least gives the illusion there’s an NBA team still in Oklahoma City.
But don’t take any of this as sour grapes. I’m not complaining. It still blows me away I got to watch all of this in sleepy little Oklahoma City in the first place.
There won’t be a parade in Oklahoma City, but there will be the best ever ESPN 30/30 film ever made about a pro sports franchise.
OKC Thunder R.I.P.— you just became the Charlotte Hornets.