Three years ago, the Sooner State found out the hard, cruel truth about their only major professional team.
Guys don’t graduate and come back as conquering alum.
Yeah we all knew that cognitively, just not emotionally.
Kevin Durant’s shocking bolt to Golden State cushioned everyone for what came last week.
We’d already gotten jilted. At least, this time, it was a requested trade, so there was reward for being jilted.
Russell Westbrook gave us both the good and the bad, but in either case, it was all-out, balls-out intense basketball.
He wasn’t a fave among media, nor a good role model for kids on how to talk to the media. Just ask Berry Tramel, a guy who no one sees as surly. Russ didn’t like him, as he told him in a locker room chat in January four years ago, before peppering several queries from the room with the same of answer of “execution.”
To the media, Westbrook gave one final Oklahoma salute Thursday night. A horde of scribes and TV guys waited in a contained area at a Tulsa comedy club after being told Westbrook would meet with them. A short while later, one of the event’s publicity people informed the gathering there would be no questions taken.
Next question, in the end, became no question.
To many of those waiting, it’s like while his performances will be missed, his postgame will not.
But the performance is what the fan will remember, along with the heart medicine he dispersed weeks after Durant’s departure when he said Oklahoma City was his place and signed his extension of commitment.
He won an MVP. He baptized Chesapeake Arena with triple-doubles.
But, he never won a playoff series — not without Durant.
And when Paul George walked in last week, a year after signing a similar oath of love, and told general manager Sam Presti he couldn’t get over LA, the city he longed for as a disgruntled Indiana Pacer, Presti pulled the trigger on what would signal the end of an era. To LA, Clippers style, went George, then it was only a matter of when Westbrook would be shipped.
Stuck with the only bright side in all this, OKC fans now have a bunch of draft picks — many not guaranteed to be high first-rounders, but enough to put together and make attractive moves up with.
Think of it this way, it’s recruiting season in Thunderville — only in the NBA culture, the draft makes the decision on management, not a college or European hot shot.
One of the draft picks for Westbrook is so far out there, 2026, it’s quite possibly it’s some seventh grader shooting hoops in a Summer Pride session.
The future for the Thunder is just that, the future.
Just don’t feel too bad if the Westbrook-James Harden reunion works better than the Westbrook-George formula and you wake up to the news that of the only Thunder team that made the NBA finals, in 2012, four from that group are hoisting a Larry O’Brien trophy as a league champion.
First Durant, then Toronto’s Serge Ibaka, and possibly Westbrook and Harden.
Hey, football season’s almost here.