Thunderstruck

Committed? Check. Community? Check. Humility? Check. Resiliency? Check!

I’ve been very blessed to be able to attend several Thunder games this season (23 to be exact – not including pre-season and post-season games), and was among the fortunate few who witnessed the Thunder’s first ever home playoff game from the Ford Center. I’d try to describe the feeling of being there to you, but honestly, there just aren’t words. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.

I could tell you about the game, but I’m sure that if you cared, you watched it. If not, I doubt you’ll be able to avoid the highlights on Sports Center. In a nutshell, after a slow start (a 0 – 10 run in the opening minutes) we never lost focus. With scoring help from Green, Harden and Westbrook, we kept the game to a 2 point lead at the half. I sat speechless for most of the 3rd quarter knowing that we could win, but we needed a momentum shift and we needed it fast. Then, this happened:

Westbrook with a dunk. Harden with a 3 point shot. Kevin with a 3 point shot. Bing-bang-boom! We tied it up. From then on, the crowd kept a steady roar.. a steady, ear-numbing roar. Neither I, nor basically anyone else sat during the entire 4th quarter. I have never cheered so loudly or been so intensely involved in any single event in my life. The whole thing was simply indescribable.

The final score: Lakers 96 – Thunder 101

Now, I know this entire concept is lost on some of you. Why would I care so deeply about a basketball game? Well, to understand why the game was so important to me, I’ll explain to you why the team means so much to me.

  • Humility. We could’ve had any combination of guys on this team. I feel like the Thunder staff hand-picked these guys, not only because they are immensely talented, but because they’re also incredibly humble. A dude like Kobe just wouldn’t work in this community. Yeah, he’s one of the greats as far as basketball, but his ego and behavior off the court is downright appalling. That doesn’t jive with us Oklahomans. We’re in the middle of the Bible belt here.. We want guys with good character and good heads on their shoulders – and we’ve got them. Keep your Kobes and LeBrons, we’ll keep Kevin and Russ.
  • Community. Maybe this comes along with the humility, but I’ve never seen a team more involved with their community. Yes, I understand that as members of the NBA, each team is contractually required to be involved it their community to a certain extent. Maybe it’s my ignorance of the way other organizations run, but I feel like the Thunder go above and beyond. Our boys are constantly out in the community building houses, visiting schools, helping coach basketball camps for kids.. anything they can do to be good role models. Then, there’s Kevin Durant. I may be wrong, but I’m fairly certain that the KD’s Giving Tree  event from last Christmas was Kevin’s idea that the Thunder jumped behind to promote. Also, I know that he took a less fortunate family shopping and told them to get whatever they wanted for the holidays.. and all of that came out of his own pocket. Not mention the Rumble Acts of Kindness promotion when, for an entire week, Rumble ran around picking random people in the community to bless in various ways. After meeting the person behind Rumble, I have a feeling that the idea was his and he convinced the Thunder to back him up. All that to say, we’ve been there for them and they’ve stepped up to be there for our community.
  • Underdog. Who doesn’t love the underdog? We went 23 – 59 last season.. this season, 50 – 32. Nine of our players are under the age of 23. We obviously don’t have the size or experience of other teams in the league. No one expected to see us in the playoffs for at least another couple years – And yet, here we are, the number 8 seed in the Western conference, making the defending champs work to make it to the second round. If that ain’t the beginning of a Cinderella story, I don’t know what is. Give us a few years, we’ll be champs. I guarantee it.
  • Resiliency. You can criticize whatever aspect of our game that you feel the need to, but you can’t say we’re not resilient. In any sport, it’s hard to take a beating and keep your energy and esteem up, but the Thunder never say die. I’ve never seen any team bounce back like we do. Game 3 was the perfect example of that. While KD was doing a fantastic job defensively, his offense was off, scoring only 8 points in the first half. However, he didn’t let that stop him from taking shots. Kevin ended the game with 29 points – 5 more than Kobe. How does the Thunder manage to not lose their heads? The players credit their teammates and coaching staff for never giving up on them and the energy of the crowd to re-affirm them. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
  • Family. Imagine it was your son out on that court playing in his first playoff series against possibly the best team in the NBA.. and he won. That’s how I felt. I’ve become very attached to all these guys. I consider them my family and I will do anything I can to support my family, through good times and bad. I sat in Loud City and cheered my team on during their less-than-stellar first season, I shelled out cash that I didn’t have to be there with them for their first playoff series and I’ll continue to cheer them on the rest of my life. Those are my boys.

Tonight is game 4. Can we win it? Absolutely. Will we win it? Well, I hope so.
What I can guarantee you is that I’ll be there screaming my lungs out for my boys and, win or lose, they’ll play their hardest – not only for themselves, but for us. Regardless of how the series turns out, I couldn’t be prouder of the way this team has improved and how much they have accomplished. Get behind the Thunder, people! Let’s rise together!

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7 thoughts on “Thunderstruck

  1. by far and away, your best blog post ever.. agreed with every word.. well done.. i think i’m even gonna post the link at dailythunder.com for other Thunder fans to read..

    ps: i can watch that 8-0 run video over and over again.. well, actually, i have.. probably have watched it a dozen times over the last couple of days..

    1. I knew you’d like it, but I take the fact that you’re gonna post it on dailythunder as a huge compliment. Thank you, sir.

      P.S. Same here. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched it since Thursday and I still get goosebumps. Incredible.

  2. You seem like a great lady. And I’m proud that you got to witness your first playoff win for your favorite team. But, for the record, there isn’t a more charitable guy in the entire league than Kobe. And as for his behavior off the court being appalling, you obviously haven’t paid attention to anything he’s said or done since 2004. Bible Belt? Jesus was about forgiveness, forgiving your brother 70 times 7 times? Loving your enemies and treating them as well as your friends? Not to criticize your religious fervor but the idea that somehow the “Bible Belt” has a more authoritative view on religion, Christianity, Jesus, or God than other places is absurd.

    I’m perfectly fine with your joy of winning a playoff game and in having such a great franchise player like Durant on the floor. But I’ve followed Kobe growing up being a Laker fan since the mid 1990’s and I’ve seen every one of his postgame interviews and various other public events. I’ve also been watching Russell Westbrook…Kobe is the second greatest and most accomplished Shooting Guard in the history of the league and he conducts himself with a lot more humility than Russell Westbrook does. Last I checked pounding your chest and jumping up and down after your first big playoff game against the Defending World Champions shows a lot more ego and lack of humility than anything Kobe’s done all series.

    Kobe is a lot more humble than you would believe, and for everything he’s accomplished, a lot more humble than he could actually be!

    Once again, I support your enthusiasm for your team, but stop that judgmental Kobe is “APPALLING” BS, God doesn’t like you anymore than he likes Kobe or me, or anyone else. Until you understand that, please stop acting like God’s moral beacon of light here on the earth!

  3. Also, for the record. Kobe Bryant was the league’s Golden Child until what happened in Eagle Colorado in the summer of 2004. He was a guy who never drank, never smoked, never went out to strip clubs with guys, never partied, never gambled, and never spent money on himself in the Lavish ways other NBA stars do (other than a car and house, but not in ridiculous parties, women, etc.)

    Kobe is still that same guy 15 years after he got drafted. We read stories all the time about Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely, in how they cheat on their wives constantly and gamble their life savings away. Kobe has never ever come close to a DUI because Kobe doesn’t drink. He doesn’t go hang out at bars like Serge Ibaka does or go to strip clubs like the rest of the NBA teams do. I know I’m defending him with zeal and fervor, but the guy is literally a completely spot up guy who is driven by one thing and one thing only, and that’s to be the greatest basketball player ever. We admire that in Los Angeles.

    Once again, Kobe was 24 when he first did something off the court that hurt his reputation, Durant is still 21, Westbrook is even younger. And they don’t have nearly the same distractions or temptations that would pull an LA kid on a consistent basis.

    All I ask is that you reserve judgment on other human beings, especially ones who are actually GREAT HUMAN BEINGS like Kobe. Every problem he’s ever had, whether problems with teammates or problems with the organization or problems with opposing players, has been in the name of his love for the game of basketball. That kind of single minded focus is something even Jordan lacked in his alcohol, gambling, adulterous, and business ventures.

    I’m sure KD is a great human being, Russell Westbrook is as cocky as Kobe AT THE VERY LEAST, so please, once again, stop your “humility” jibberish.

    Anyone who has the audacity to believe that they are greater in God’s eyes than another person, city, etc. shouldn’t be allowed to use the word Humility. it’s the exact opposite of the qualities Jesus was looking for, go back and read the Sermon on the Mount if you don’t believe me.

    1. Vahagn –
      Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments! I really appreciate that even though you disagree with some of what I said and it obviously got under your skin, I could tell that you were trying to be respectful. Please know that, even though some of your statements rubbed me the wrong way, I’ll do my best to be respectful as well.

      I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot about Kobe. Obviously, I’m not a fan so I haven’t gone out of my way to research him. I would say that I know about as much about him as your average fan of any other team in the league. What we know about Kobe is that he’s a superb player but he hardly ever admits wrong doing on the court and he, at the very least, cheated on his wife. I’m sure there are good, charitable things he does, but those don’t make the headlines. His reputation as a great player with a sketchy-at-best personal life is all we know. Is that fair to him? Probably not, but that’s the way the media works.

      Where you first lost me in this conversation is pulling the Jesus card because I used the phrase “Bible belt”. I think that you misunderstood my meaning. By saying that we’re in the Bible belt, I meant that our overall moral standards here are different than those of the general standards in LA. (This is a generalized statement!) We here in the Bible belt are not known for being the most liberal. We don’t deal well with big egos.. and yes, I think every non-Lakers fan would agree, Kobe has one.
      I never meant to make this a God conversation, but since you brought it up, I’ll be the first to admit that I am in no way perfect. I never claimed to be perfect and I would never say that our players are either. (Humility and perfection are two completely different things.) I don’t claim to be better than Kobe or anyone else. I’m sure that some could look at things in my life and consider them “appalling” as well. Since you seem to be big on quoting scripture, “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I’m fully aware of this.
      You say I’m being judgmental, I say Kobe’s reputation proceeds him and the people around here don’t want a guy with that reputation (whether you find that it’s deserved or not) on our team. (Another generalized statement.)
      Personally, I find some of your statements about me very judgmental, but it is what it is. No hard feelings.

      The second thing you said that makes no sense to me is saying that Russ Westbrook is egotistical because “he pounded his his chest and jumped up and down after winning his first playoff game against the defending world champs.” Please re-read that statement. I would dare to say that if you or I or anyone else had a killer game in the playoffs against a great team like the Lakers, we may be excited enough to jump up and down or pound our chests, not as a “look at me, I’m so awesome” gesture, but as a reaction of joy of a dream realized. You basing your opinion of Russ on something like that seems a little judgmental, no? I’m assuming you, like me in the Kobe situation, haven’t really done too much research into Russ’ personal life.. You’re not a fan, so why would you? If you did, you’d find that Russ is an amazingly humble guy, much like if I took the time to look into Kobe’s personal life, I might find the same thing. Chances are neither of us are going to do that, so maybe we’re both speaking out of ignorance. You know Russ as egotistical because he pounded his chest, I know Kobe as egotistical because he protests (almost) every time he gets a foul like he’s incapable of making a mistake. Honestly, neither of us will take the time to do our research and will continue to think the same as we do right now.. and that’s fine. Agree to disagree. We’re both entitled to our opinions.

      All that said, I will say that I have seen a change in Kobe during the playoffs. I was shocked when he raised his hand after a foul. SHOCKED. That said a lot to me about his mentality in this series. Not that it makes me a fan, but it was a nice thing to see.

      Also, just on a personal note, please be careful when you pull the Jesus card on people. Nothing gets me more than when people say things to indicate that my relationship with God must not be right because of trivial things (like my feelings about Kobe Bryant). My relationship with God is entirely my business and no one else’s. It was very unfair to make that call about my spiritual state when you don’t even know me. Religion and faith are sticky subjects, so please try to be conscious of what you say when you bring those into an argument.

      God bless you, sir.. and may the best team win! 🙂

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