Durant’s exit means end for OKC?

Posted by art@cushingcitizen.com art@cushingcitizen.com
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7/9/2016


Hey, Oklahoma City.
Welcome to the big time.
Yes. I know. Oklahoma City Thunder fans are feeling all bent out of shape because of the events of July 4.
That’s when Kevin Wayne Durant opted out. Literally.
Durant, who had seemingly sworn his allegiance to OKC, decided instead to use his free agency and become a member of the Golden State Warriors.
You know: if you can’t beat ‘em.
Join ‘em.

Perhaps had Durant and his fellow Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook played better down the stretch in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, July 4 would have come and gone without issue.
Had they not turned the ball over so much and missed clutch shots, the Thunder would have eliminated the Warriors and advanced to the NBA Finals against Cleveland.
History tells us such was not the case.

We should not be pained because KD, five times an NBA all-star, exited.
After all, dude played for three high schools in four seasons. And remained at the University of Texas only one season.
It’s just the way he did it that irks us, right?
I mean: This is a guy who was among the first on the grounds at Moore after a tornado ravaged that city. Who donated his own money and challenged Nike and Chesapeake Energy to match it, which they did.
This is the guy who invested in Oklahoma schools.
And those of you burning his jersey should remember he someday will be in the Hall of Fame. And you’ll have nothing to show or barter for it.

It was 2008 when I said I would not buy into the NBA being in Oklahoma City. That was after the Seattle SuperSonics — Durant was a second-year player — packed up and moved to the middle of the nation.
I vowed then the NBA would not work in OKC. That prices would be too steep for fans to buy season tickets.
That was before Kevin Durant became “KD” and Russell Westbrook became a blur.
And Chesapeake Energy Arena became the place to see and be seen.
Much like a college gymnasium.

What we should worry about now is how much longer the Thunder can survive in such a small market.
The rumors are that Durant and Westbrook grew weary of one another. That they bickered while scoring baskets of points together.
If so, such is beyond petty.
The NBA is a player-driven league. Star players dictate what other, lesser players do. Superstars decide rosters.
A former NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP makes Durant a superduperstar.
His moving from OKC to the Bay Area may have long-reaching effects.

I cannot imagine the Thunder remaining in Oke City without success. Throw up a couple of 30-victory seasons and other — read: larger — cities will come calling.
In a Payne County eatery on Tuesday night I heard a member of the serving staff say something akin to, “They’re going to be all right; third or fourth in the West.”
I took him to task.
Oklahoma City was built on success.
Durant is gone. I cannot see Westbrook hanging around on a do-nothing team. Unless, that is, he wants to be the only big fish in the pond.

I give the Thunder four more years in our state’s capitol. After that, who knows?
San Diego? Las Vegas? Cincinnati?
Seattle?
It has been a wonderful, whirlwind ride those of us in Oklahoma have shared.
We have learned the association is a business. Played by businessmen.
As a former San Antonio Spurs fan, I gave up on the NBA way back in the early 2000s when it went on strike.
As an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, I got my mojo back.
I am hoping against hope I am wrong.
But I’m envisioning the Thunder sneaking out of town.