Don’t you hate it when you play pick-up basketball with strangers? Other than the fact every dude thinks they are better at the game than they really are (I think this gene is located on the HLA-B allele strand of the male), you never get the ball. Sure, at the beginning of the game everything seems peaceful and cooperative: you get the ball, pass, try to set a screen, move without the ball, etc. But after that auspicious first possession, the players quickly morph into a bunch of Billy Zane’s in the Titanic; every man for himself. You better get the rebound or else you will not even have a chance of touching the ball, much less shoot. When the other team scores, you have to run away or else you may have to inbounds the ball. It just becomes a game of garbage.
That is the offensive game plan of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It is perhaps the ugliest, most vile, decrepit version of basketball one can imagine. Without getting too technical, here is the Thunder playbook: iso Durant left wing, iso Durant right wing, iso Durant FT line, Westbrook with head down runs into lane and jumps. There is no cohesion, there is no thoughtfulness out there, it is just two great athletes with great skill just doing what they want. There is a reason they lost a league high 14 4th quarter leads (league high) and a assist-to-basket rate that makes a pick-up game look like a Pete Newell vs John Wooden contest.
And goddammit, they won. Yes, yes, yes. They won. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of Golden St. Their braggadocious behavior is unappealing to me, but there is no doubt they play a handsome style of ball. The share the ball. They think the game. They are fun to watch. Their coach, UA alum Steven Kerr, is a decent man who almost died during the off season due to illness. Compare that with rookie coach Billy Donovan; a man so surreptitious even used car dealers turn the other way. And have you seen the Thunder unis?
Criminy, who designed these things? It’s like clip art.
So yes, I have to root for Golden St. This is not a matter of simple fan allegiance, this is a matter of right and wrong. Good vs evil. Gandalf vs the Balrog. Michael Bay vs decent movie making. We all have to pull for Golden St because if OKC wins, this may prove that although there is no ‘I’ in team, there is an ‘I’ in win.