Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wednesday Thunderbolts

  • I just couldn't let this go (caution: heavy cursing inside and turn your speakers down). An awesome, awesome (and by awesome, you know what I mean) YouTube rant about the new Thunder jerseys. Holy cow, it's good. Better (or should I say worse?) rant - the eruption of Mount Gundy, Lee Elia's head exploding or MadThad0890's on the Thunder? And in case you were thinking about doing it, save your time: I counted - he said Thunder 46 times.
  • Speaking of Mike Gundy, Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman on the team growing together: "The franchise and the face are going to grow up together. 'For him to come here early in his career ... ,' Thunder point guard Earl Watson said, '20 years from now, 30 years from now, you think of the Thunder being in Oklahoma City, you're going to have to think of Kevin Durant.' This is a youngster who has not only the ability but also the personality to be a superstar. Look at what happened a year ago. He played for a dreadful team but still won the NBA Rookie of the Year. He landed on the West Coast but still emerged a marketing darling."
  • He put it up yesterday, but there was a lot going on with the unis. Be sure to check out Part 7: Power Forward, of Joe's Thunder position-by-position breakdown. "[Head coach P.J. Carlesimo] essentially started some combination of [Kurt] Thomas, [Nick] Collison and [Chris] Wilcox at the PF and Center spot on most nights, interspersed with a few shots of Robert Swift before injuries and Johan Petro. In the end, Kurt Thomas was mercifully traded to a contender before the deadline, Wilcox got hurt and Nick Collison proved why he is one of the most underrated front court players in the game today. The big men for the Thunder this coming season will be the same crew less Kurt Thomas but with the addition of first round pick D.J. White and Joe Smith, both are also Power Forwards. As a whole, the Power Forward position was the second most effective and efficient position for us. Shooting guard was slightly better."
  • ESPN the Magazine's Chad Nielsen on Serge Ibaka's impressive dunking: "I didn't drive to Zaragoza at 170 km/hr to backseat-judge a dunk competition. I came for one reason. (Okay, two reasons. After a week fighting traffic and soccer club bureaucracies in Barcelona, I was stoked to rent a Citroen C5 and hit the road. But it took 45 minutes to rent the car and Zaragoza was about 60km further than I was led to believe. So I had to rush a bit.) No, I came to see the kind of hops that legends are made of—legends like Serge Ibaka."
  • Joe Smith, Man on the Move via Ball Don't Lie: "Joe Smith is an Oklahoma City Thunder, now; but if you'd forgotten that he'd been traded to the team over the summer, you're forgiven. He kind of flies low on the radar. Hell, I had to look the trade up. It was a three-way deal. However, if you failed to assume that Smith had been traded during the offseason, you're still on the hook. After all, the man's been in the league since 1995, he's played for nine teams, and two of the nine twice. So 11 teams, really, and all pretty much with the same haircut. Same jumper, too. Always there, always the same."
  • John Klein of The Tulsa World: "Yet, just like the team, the questions on media day eventually got down to what will be most important in a couple of years. What type of team will this be? When can the Thunder realistically expect to be competitive in the NBA? For the first couple of years, that won't matter. Folks are going to jam the place excitedly. In 2-3 years, they may want to see some wins."

The Thunder will be mascot-less

At least for a few months, according to The Oklahoman.

“There will not be a mascot at the start of the season,” said team spokesman Dan Mahoney. “It might not be ready until the second half of the season, maybe even after the All-Star break (in February). We’re going to take some time to develop it. We want to make sure it’s the right mascot and the design is right. We’re putting a lot of time and thought into it. You don’t get a second chance to do this. You can’t buy an NBA mascot costume off the rack.”

Oh Lord. I can hear the jokes and one-liners coming in waves after that quote. With the entire sports world hating the logo, most of it hating the name and about half hating the jerseys, I can only imagine the zingers that are to come from that. I think we can only handle a few unveilings at a time anyway. I don't think the state of Oklahoma can handle another public perception disaster anyway. If they had to rush into a mascot like they did with the name, the logo and the jerseys who knows what we would get?

A fat guy with "Thunder" written across his chest with two cardboard lightning bolts in each hand? A really offensive Indian that runs around with its bare butt exposed swinging a bloody tomahawk?

I say just let the Sooner Schooner double as the mascot. It's already one of the most loved, recognizable ones anyway. I'm sure David Boren wouldn't mind - especially if the Thunder would let some of Boren's prized National Merit scholars drive it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesday Thunderbolts: Uni reaction

  • Ball Don't Lie says the new unis look like someone we've seen before... where have we heard that? "These could have been a lot worse, especially after the tragedy that is the team's logo, but we can't help but shake a sneaking suspicion that we've seen these new Oklahoma City Thunder uniforms before. Like, on Patrick Ewing." One comment left said simply, "Bennett keeps stealing." I don't care who you are, that's funny. And if you're super-sensitive to anything negative about the team, be sure to steer clear of the comments.
  • Uni Watch: "These things are so generic, they might as well just have “Basketball Team” printed on the front and then they could have a cameo scene in Repo Man. It’s not like they’re ugly, mind you. Au contraire, the colors are reasonably pleasing, the road jersey typography would look pretty cool on a 1960s NCAA team, and the whole package is admirably gewgaw-free. But for an NBA team rebranding itself? It’s tempting to call it a joke, except jokes are funny. This is just sad."
  • Newsok.com's "OKC N' Style" breaks down the new threads. (And here's her written story too.) This has to be one of the worst/most awkward things ever done, ever. The lady has absolutely no knowledge of NBA uniforms (and she even admits that, so why is she discussing this?) and even says at one point how much of "an attention getter" white is and how good of a choice it was. As if the team chose white. For those scoring at home, white is pretty much every home team's uni color - except in rare cases like the Lakers. Leave it up to Newsok to take something as anti-gay as professional sports and turn it into something that feels a little gay by breaking down color schemes and what kind of emotions sky blue puts off. I'm trying not to really comment on these media hits, but I couldn't help it with this. Come on lady.
  • Via Realgm.com's message boards: "Personally, I think they look really good. Not being sarcastic at all," and "Their white jerseys aren't as bad as I thought at first, not bad at all really though resembling some other teams. The road though, I'll admit the colors are ok but wow, that's way too much text for a jersey." Within the four pages, the consensus was pretty much divided evenly between "gross," "good" and "they're alright." And seems like everyone's got a comparison - there were comparisons to the Warriors, the Knicks, the Bobcats, the Nuggets, the T-Wolves and even the Hornets in there. So does that mean pretty much every NBA team looks like every other NBA team? Doesn't seem like OKC is the only culprit there if everyone else looks like each other too.
  • Chris Littmann of Sportingnews.com: "Honestly, these uniforms remind me of the Memphis Grizzlies' duds. Pretty plain, similar colors and no huge logo or anything on the front." If I hear someone compare the jerseys to the Celtics', then I'm cashing it in.
  • Zorgon from Blue Blitz: "Third of all, the fronts of both uniforms are just a little bit too bland and noisy. The white uniforms have orange tracing around them for some god-knows-why reason. Combining it with the white and yellow doesn't turn out too well in my opinion. The road uniforms also suffer from problems, as it just looks like they slapped Oklahoma, City, and the numbers on there with absolutely no regard for style. In conclusion, after a second look, these uniforms are pretty poor. They have some positive points on the colouring, but the uniforms are eternally marred by their use of butt crack logo and their overall genericness."
  • Bend It Like Bennett: "Now on to the road unis. I think the offical name for the color is "Expansion Team Blue". She kinda lost me for a minute there because I'm no color expert myself, and the discussion becomes very dense and theoretical, but I'll try to break it down. Blue is 'dependable' like the sky, because the sky won't fall, even though sometimes times get tough, and also it's very loyal. That's so weird because whenever I think about this franchise, "stability" and "loyalty" are the two words I think of. But also blue is "powerful" like a bright blue Oklahoma sky with fluffy white nimbus clouds where some of them look like animals, and so you're feeling all loyal and stable and then suddenly you see the red-orange trim and you're energized."
  • One quick note from me, via The Thunderworld: I know I've already expressed how I feel, but I just want to say it again. I semi-like the new uniforms. They are streamlined and an attempt at being classy. If you want, start busting out every other team's jersey and take a peak. The Thunder is right along with everyone. There's no overbearing font, no overzealous picture - just who they are and what they are. Simple and sleek. Now, like I said also, I'm mainly giving them the benefit of the doubt because of what they were working with. I wasn't a fan of the name, the logo or the colors, so that would make it tough to be a fan of the jerseys. But as for being too generic and too simple, I just don't agree there. That's what the world's best uniforms are. The nickname Thunder was a little controversial so I'm very glad the team didn't run with it and start putting storm clouds and lightning bolts everywhere. The team is named Thunder but this is really about Oklahoma City. That's where the focus should be and I think that's where it is. Right now, OKC is on top of every sports' fan's hit-list. We're the punchline to every joke. It's gotten the point where anything the Thunder does, sucks. Whether it actually sucks or not, everyone automatically thinks it will. They could go 60-22 and win the West and everyone would still think the team sucks. Just the way it is right now. But it will pass.
For those calling it too generic, are these too generic?

I don't mean the uniform crusader here because I'm not really a fan either, but I just wonder if OKC is getting a fair shake. Did I just compare the unis to the Celtics? Well, I guess I'm done here.

Also, judging by this picture, the trim is most definitely dark blue. Glad to have that cleared up.

Jerseys unveiled

They're here. On the official website, you can see Earl Watson, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Nick Collison modeling them. And here's a video of them modeling as well. I must say, Jeff Green, Heidi Klum would be impressed.

There's not too much to complain about, except for the black in the stripes. They are extremely New York Knick-looking, which is fine, seeing as the Knicks have classic unis. Come to think of it, they're really New York Knick-looking.

It's a relief to not see the logo on the jersey displayed prominately. I must say, my initial reaction is "Well, that's not so bad." And I think that will be the overall reaction. The logo appears to have been a bust, but the duds don't look like they'll be a dud. They're very safe and neutral. Nothing outlandish. No huge font or huge picture across the front. It's clear they went for a streamlined and classy look.

Like I said in another post, I wanted "Oklahoma City" to be over and under the number. I also was hoping for the neck-line stripe and lines down the side to be orange-white-blue. No black. Where did the black come from? So now there's five colors? Blue, orange/red, yellow, dark blue and now black? Geez. The baselines on the Ford Center court will probably be green just for good measure. The sidebar is orange-blue-white but the neck has black. Lose the black.

My initial reaction is 7/10.The score is that high because I have to take into account what they had to work with - a crappy logo and a pretty weird color scheme. We all know that within five years the jerseys will change, along with the logo too. I have to say the road jerseys are better than the home though. I dig the Oklahoma City font and I just love seeing Oklahoma City on a professional sports jersey. Also, kudos for not using the block letter "OKC" that was on the logo in a big, bold way on the front of the jersey. They worked with what they had and made the most out of it. It's not exactly how I would have designed them, but I don't think anyone will be snickering when we take the floor against them.

EDIT: One comment pointed out that it may be the dark "Thunder" blue that's lining the trim. If that's so, then I'd be much more happy with the unis. I watched the video much more closely and on the zoom-in on Collison, I do think that may be blue too. Once I get my hands on one, I'll know for sure. And I agree, who else can't wait for digusting alternate jersey night at the Thunderdome? There could be some crazy uni combinations with all four/five colors.

(Also, random thought: How long until we can have throwback night in OKC? The Lakers toss out those sweet old school Minneapolis jerseys from time-to-time and everyone loves them. So when do we get to trot out some old school Seattle SuperSonics jerseys? Boy, that would really set some people off...)

Monday Thunderbolts

  • Fox Sports Net to air 65 Thunder games this year. On a revamped network, Oklahoma fans will be able to watch their favorite team for most of the season. The remaining Thunder games are expected to air on an Oklahoma City over-the-air station, but a deal has not been announced. Replacing Fox Sports Net Southwest will be Fox Sports Net Oklahoma. More than half of the telecasts will be available in HD. FS Oklahoma will launch with the first Thunder telecast in October and will be available statewide as a replacement for FSN Southwest. The date of the launch has not been set.
  • Steve Aschburner of SI.com answers some burning questions about the Western Conference: "Will the Thunder's toughest challenge come on or off the court? Ripping this franchise away from Seattle after four proud and mostly fun decades caused all sorts of emotional trauma -- in Seattle. But you know how modern athletes and coaches are, millionaire mercenaries happy to love the ones they're with, as long as the fat checks cash. This should be expansion without stretch marks, marrying a team that is more advanced than any inaugural edition to a market that has shed its NBA training wheels. But they shouldn't let any happy honeymoon get in the way of an urgency to improve. Young as this club is, NBA players have finite careers, and building blocks in Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and first-round pick Russell Westbrook need to be full-fledged contributors while guys such as Nick Collison, Damien Wilkins, Chris Wilcox and Desmond Mason still are in their prime, bringing quality and depth to the roster."
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "But the recent history of rookie point guards suggests Thunder fans should also have tempered expectations for this year's No. 4 overall pick. In the last 10 NBA seasons, only five rookie point guards have averaged at least 12 points and six assists: Chris Paul in 2005-06, Kirk Hinrich in 2003-04, Steve Francis in 1999-00 and Mike Bibby and Jason Williams in 1998-99. Not Baron Davis. Not Gilbert Arenas. Not Deron Williams. Not Tony Parker."
  • How many wins will the Thunder have this season? The consensus at Oklahoma City Thunder Forum looks to be about 20-25 wins. User ThunderBoomer says, "Based upon the home court advantage that was evidenced by the Hornets that should work toward the Thunder's advantage. I know that it may very well be the most difficult division in the most difficult conference, however I really think that this team won 20 last year, they should be able to build on that with at least 5 more wins. I think 25 wins is probable and I will be pleased. 30 wins will be awesome. 20 wins would be okay, but it would show that we still have some building."
  • Curious about every single stat of every single player with incredible, in-depth breakdowns of each player including how many threads are in their socks and how that may affect their mid-range jumper? Check out Thunderguru's awesome Thunder position-by-position breakdown. If you still don't know this team after that, then there's no helping you. Joe says, "My problem with [Jeff] Green offensively is twofold: 1) He’s attempting to become a jumpshooting Small Forward and he hasn’t proven to be good at it. 2) I didn’t see any noticeable improvement in his game last year. I’ve read at least five different stories about this team in the last week where they talk about Green’s strong finish to the season. It kind of makes me mad when people take a cursory look at the stats, haven’t seen him play more than a handful of times yet see fit to comment on his game as if knowledgeable. Yes, Jeff Green’s overall statline increased in April as opposed to January, but not because of improved play. His numbers went up because he got more minutes and he attempted more shots."
  • Uniforms, of course to be revealed any minute. Anyone else really looking forward to Uni Watch's breakdown of the new duds? And also, we'll have as much coverage as we can provide from media day news.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

NBA Live '09/NBA 2K9 leaks Thunder jersey

Well, that is if you think they will actually look like that.

Via Oklahoma City Thunder Forum and the Oklahoman's Thunder Rumblings, comes NBA Live 2009's version of OKC's home jerseys (picture) and NBA 2K9's (video). I posted about a week ago that it was confirmed that the Thunder would be in NBA 2K9, but we weren't sure about Live. Well, obviously Live has made the update.

One thing of interesting note from the 2K9 video - the announcer had the cut-in robot voice when he said, "The Chicago Bulls will take on...(voice inflection change, jump cut in sound) and the OKLA-homa CI-ty squad. So "Thunder" didn't make it in for the announcers to say - or did it? About three minutes in, Kevin Harlan says, "The THUNDER will bring out some reserves." So it's in there. Whatever. Also, the court looks super bland. Hopefully that's not what it will actually look like. Surely the logo will be at mid-court like that, but the lanes and baselines look so boring. They look like we snuck into the Pepsi Center and pried the Nuggets' lane right up and trucked it into the Thunderdome.

The Thunder will actually reveal the real jerseys Monday. No telling if they will be anything like the ones on the game. Live's jersey and 2K9's are basically the exact same - does that mean the actual duds will look like that or did both gaming companies just come together to have a unified look? I guess we'll know Monday. Here's to hoping they don't use that Microsoft Word '97 font for "Thunder" like they have on the games. I really want to see "Oklahoma City" on one of the jerseys - I'd prefer both - because it could look good with the player's number in the middle and "Oklahoma" and top with "City" underneath. But they never do what I want.

Sucks that Darnell Mayberry beat me to this because I've been stalking NBA Live '09 and 2K9 updates to try and catch a leak. But I was at the OU game tonight so I missed it. Oh well. That's why he makes the big bucks. That and his extremely awkward NewsOK video commentaries. And DM says on Thunder Rumblings, "[The uniforms] looks pretty sweet to me." They could be brown burlap sacks with duct tape spelling out "Thunder" across the front with cowboy boots for shoes and Darnell Mayberry would say they "look pretty sweet." Not saying the game's jerseys looked bad but they definitely weren't anything spectacular.

John Lucas III signed by Thunder

Yes, that's the former Oklahoma State point guard. According to the Oklahoman, he'll be in training camp. He's been in the league (with the Houston Rockets) for a few years and it looks like he's got a real shot at making the team. The Thunder has 14 roster spots filled (with Lucas) and the league maximum you can carry into the regular season is 15.

One key note: the Thunder reserved the right to waive Lucas before the start of the regular season. So he by no means has made the team.

This means there's two former Pokes on the roster (Desmond Mason being the other). Is this like a strategy by team management to get fans excited? Bring in all the former state college standouts, see what they can do and make Okies get all nostalgic? I'm waiting for Nate Erdman and Ernie Abercrombie's chance. Or what about Shay Seals? I heard Franz Steyn and Randy Rutherford were also available. Oh, what's that? All those guys either sucked big time or don't play basketball anymore? Ok, well just give me Jabari Brown and Maurice Baker. I could go on for days with these old school names.

But in all seriousness, when you're other two point guards are Earl Watson and super-unproven rookie Russell Westbrook, having a good security blanket like Lucas is definitely a good idea.

Also according to the Oklahoman, the Thunder will bring in power forward rookie Derrick Byers (Vanderbilt) and Chris Alexander, 7-1 center from Iowa State.

Friday, September 26, 2008

We're not last!

ESPN.com's Marc Stein put out his first NBA power rankings of the year. And he has the Thunder coming in at a solid No. 25.

And the Milwaukee Bucks are in at No. 24. Oooh, a top 25 matchup in game one at the Thunderdome. Exciting.

Here's what Stein had to say:
"Kevin Durant's super young Sonics-turned-Thunder figure to make less of a first-season splash than the Hornets did in Oklahoma City. But the team that broke the hearts of Sonics diehards everywhere -- including several at the home office in Bristol -- can take a bit of encouragement from the fact that OKC and its loud crowds were very, very good to the Hornets, rankings-wise, as you'll find by clicking here."

Well, that's ok, right? Maybe the Thunder can surprise people. I'd be very stoked if they can be at least .500 at home. That would be a good start. And Stein's point about the Hornets' climb in OKC is not to be taken lightly. They were preseason No. 29. And with the OKC bump - something very similar to the Colbert Bump - who knows what the Thunder can achieve?

(Also, can we get official word from team management if Thunder is supposed to be plural or singular? Because it's really throwing wannabe writers like me way off. I'm all over the place with my subject/verb/pronoun agreement. Is it, "The Thunder are going to play like they want to win" or "The Thunder is going to play like it wants to win." I'm so confused. I found this sentence in a column from the Miami Herald that may give some aid: "As is, the Heat is set to open training camp in perilous shape at point guard... yada, yada, yada."

So the Herald refers to the Heat as singular. I guess we should do the same. I was really pulling for plural though.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kevin Durant's Q&A with Sporting News Today

For those of you that don't subscribe to Sporting News Today, quit reading and do it now. It's awesome. It's basically a digital newspaper delivered to your email every stinking morning and it's FREE.

Today they have a great interview with Thunder star Kevin Durant. He talks about the new look, the new team, his goals and what it's like in OKC. A really great read. (Click it to make it bigger. That's what she said.)

A few interesting things he said:

1. "Your team name is supposed to make people afraid. People are afraid of Thunder." I hate to disagree there Kevin, but who's really afraid of thunder besides six-year-olds? "What was that, dad?" "Nothing son, just thunder. It's only a sound. It can't hurt you." Remember that conversation when you were a kid? Also, who's afraid of the Lakers? Or Mavericks? Or Spurs? Oooh, the Spurs. Are those really terrifying names that intimate opponents before they step on the floor?

2. "I talked to Chris Paul about it, and it seems like a good, quiet kind of place, a family-oriented kind of place. And he said the fans are great, they're unbelievable. It sounds like it is almost a college atmosphere when you get to game night." Darn night KD. People around the country make fun of OKC about being a small town. They think we have teepees and ride horses to work. But that's fine because if they actually knew what it was like, they'd all be moving here in a heartbeat. Low crime, virtually no traffic, great jobs, great economy, extremely low cost of living, wonderful people and great schools. I think I've said too much.

3. Q: How about the chances of seeing the Thunder in the playoffs? "Oh man, it's way too early to think about that. We still need to jell together, to get better as a group, as a family. Let me think about training camp before the playoffs. Ask me in the middle of the season about the playoffs, and maybe I can give you a real answer." Translation. And the reason he'd rather be asked in the middle of the season is because by then the Thunder will be 12-29 and no one in their right mind will be asking about the playoffs.

Stop the 'Madness'

Just in case you've been dead the last two weeks and missed every issue of The Oklahoman there's this new Thunder fan website called Thunder Madness (http://thundermadness.com/). It's been advertised about as much as Righteous Kill and is equally as crappy.

Now I don't know this for a fact, but by all appearances, Thunder Madness looks to be the brainchild of those at The Oklahoman. It's had awkward advertisements in the paper where NO advertisement has ever been (like within a story). There's all the Wimgo ads on the website. Staff writers for The Oklahoman are some of the main posters on the message boards. They have the newsok.com Thunder videos up within seconds of them actually going on NewsOk. But then there's the big-time kicker - the thing that shores it all up.

Down at the bottom the site is registered to OPUBCO Communications Group - the folks that publish The Oklahoman. And if you click report issue (like that this site is a total piece of crap and an embarrassment to the state) the email address it directs you to is webmaster@newsok.com.
Wrong. Totally wrong.

Now granted, I've never been part of a big league city so this may be common place, but regardless, it needs to stop. Newspapers should not ever be involved in a fansite. Ever.

The correct process for this fansite thing, is that fans are the ones that buy the webspace, pay the dues, buy the jerseys, buy the tickets and run the website. Hence it being call "fan" site. Not some guy that's getting a paycheck from the Oklahoman. I'm no expert but in my four years at one of the best journalism colleges in the country, I learned that journalists - sports or not - are supposed to try to their darndest to be unbiased and fair. It was tough for me at OU to cover the football team because I literally breathe everything Sooner football. My eyes water and I swallow hard ever time I watch this video. So being fair for me was like a dad coaching his son. You want him to do so well and play all the time but you try as best you can to be fair.

So for the Oklahoman to pull this crap - that's disturbing. How can we expect them to do what journalists are called to do - report - if they are publicly as big of fans as we are? How will Mike Baldwin react if Kevin Durant gets busted with drugs? Will he act like some PR dude for the Thunder and spin is positively? I can't say he wouldn't because all signs point to him being too much of a fan to be objective. What if the Thunder goes 18-64 this season and 16-66 the next? Will The Oklahoman have the basketballs to call for P.J. Carlesimo's neck? Will thundermadness.com delete any posts by fans calling for The Beard to be fired? There's supposed to be separation between the writers and the fans - that's why they work for The Oklahoman and we don't.

The Oklahoman has seen a state go crazy and is looking to swoop in and make a dollar. The see the opportunity to cater to fans by building a fansite, not by doing their job. If you want fan involvement, let the fans handle it. There's already a number of blogs running and a great Thunder forum - http://www.oklahomacitythunderforum.com/. If you want to post and talk about the team (which I hope everyone does) then go there. Not some place run by the major newspaper in Oklahoma.

Boycott thundermadness.com. Let Mike Sherman (the Oklahoman's sports editor, not Texas A&M's terrible coach) know what a joke this is. It's wrong and it needs to be stopped.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Well, I guess this comes with being a big league city

Ticket scalpers suck. Like big time. Like Tavaris Jackson at football. Like Michael Moore at life. Like me at making crappy analogies.

And now, they've hit OKC.


It's not like this is something new. Oklahomans have dealt with ticket scalping with OU and OSU - well, OU football. But now it's big league scalping for a big league city. Two seats in the upper deck, row G at $2,499.00?!? That's $1,679.00 over face value. That's beyond disgusting. A regular $10 upper "Loud City" deck seat is turned into a $30 ticket.

Scalpers are the lowest of the low. The scum of the sports world - well, maybe even the scum of the world. These greedy little money lovers come in, scoop up the ticket with no intention of using it and then rape us true fans by hiking the price.

I've had this debate with numerous friends. And I've actually convinced a few how wrong it is. At OU, we have this game we play in Dallas every year against a team from Texas. Students run and buy up tickets but in my estimation, only about 40 percent actually go to the game. The remaining 60 percent snatch up a ticket, charge it to their parents bursar account, toss the ticket up on Ebay and reap some major reward to go buy more beer and doritos. While some super Sooner that can just afford the $95 face value price misses out because he had to work all day and couldn't get to the box office. Now the ticket is 500 yammers and the true Sooner is hung out to dry.

Let me put it this way. Metallica released a new CD last week. You're a HUGE Metallica fan. You've been looking forward to Death Magnetic for months. (Go get it, it's good.) When the disc dropped last week, you had to work. But after you got off you were running straight to Best Buy to pick up your brand new copy. You've been thinking about it all day. The clock strikes five and you hit up BB. You run in and don't see it anywhere. You turn around and there's a guy behind you with 50 copies in his cart. You're a little stunned. The guy is wearing a Fall Out Boy shirt and eyeliner. He clearly wants nothing to do with Metallica.

He says to you, "Hey you want one of my copies?"

You say, "Yeah! Thanks!"

He grabs one, holds it out and says, "I like you. Just make it an even 75."

"What? But it's only $9.99. You don't even want the thing!"

"I don't care. I got here first. Now make it 80."

See how ridiculous that sounds? Best Buy and the record company determine the price of the CD, not some dude that just got there before you did. We yell and complain about gas gouging, but we let ticket scalping go. Some morons just claim, "Hey, that's capitalism." Well no, capitalism is having a market that determines the set price of the ticket in the first place. The market determines the price not some jerk trying to make a buck. Wal-Mart and Target compete for consumers so they set prices based on each other. The Thunder set its prices based on the rest of the league. Scalpers aren't competing with anyone. They just want to stuff their pockets.

So my plead is, don't buy scalped tickets. JUST DON'T DO IT. And for the love of Mohamed Sene, don't scalp a ticket. If you buy one and can't go/realize this team is going to totally blow, sell it - for what you bought it for.

Or I will find you. And when I do... I'll probably just write some column about you being a huge tool.

Toby Rowland-gate

For those that aren't aware, evidently the lamest sports talk radio station in Oklahoma, KREF, has prevented KWTV-9 reporter/anchor Toby Rowland out if his contract to become the Thunder's new sideline reporter.

Rowland told The Oklahoman he was "crushed" and his lawyer said he may consider filing a lawsuit against "The Ref" to let him out of his contract. Talk about an awkward Monday morning meeting at The Ref.

The thing is, The Ref can't afford to let Rowland go. It's not like he's some amazing talent that is drawing in thousands of listeners, but when you're other two "star" anchors are Myron Patton and Rusty Olsen, Rowland might as well be Colin Cowherd. Nothing against Rusty as I have covered numerous events with him and he's a genuinely nice person - just a little weird. And as for Patton, I've never really had much contact with him but the one image that sticks out to me was at one Bob Stoops presser, Patton was sitting on the floor Indian-style. For some reason I found that really strange.

But to hold a guy back like that is weak sauce. Really weak. The reason Rowland got into this business was to go up the ladder: To land an all-time awesome gig and what would be better than being the sideline reporter for a professional franchise in your hometown. I'm sure when he was a junior reporter he wasn't thinking, "Boy, I want to do a morning radio show for the third best sports talk radio station in Oklahoma City on some AM dial that no one even knows exists!"

But what are you going to do. Rowland may get another shot later down the line, but hopefully the Thunder settles on a decent sideline reporter.
Seeing as that job is oh-so-important.

THUNDER ANNOUNCER BRIAN DAVIS: Let's go down to Toby with a sideline update.
TOBY: Yeah, Kevin Durant looks really tired right now. I'm standing right here next to him and he's like sweating and drinking Gatorade and stuff. Oh, everyone can just see that on TV? Oh. Uh... well, lots of action here! - back to you guys.

I have a major gripe about sideline reporters, but I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Training camp roster set

This has been the lead story on pretty much every news channel here in the state and on every sports talk radio station all day. The Thunder has set its training camp roster. I don't know why this is such big news, because it's not like we didn't know who was going to be on it. Oh well, when a state's as bananas as Oklahoma is about the Thunder, the Oklahoman could put out a story about P.J. Carlesimo shaving that dirty beard and we'd eat it up.

Here's who made it:
  • Nick Collison (Forward, Kansas)
  • Kevin Durant (Forward, Texas)
  • Jeff Green (Forward, Georgetown)
  • Johan Petro (Center,France)
  • Desmond Mason (Forward, Oklahoma State)
  • Mohamed Sene (Center, Senegal)
  • Joe Smith (Forward. Maryland)
  • Robert Swift (Center, Bakersfield (Calif.) HS)
  • Earl Watson (Guard, UCLA)
  • Kyle Weaver (Guard, Washington State)
  • Russell Westbrook (Guard, UCLA)
  • D.J. White (Forward, Indiana)
  • Chris Wilcox (Forward, Maryland)
  • Damien Wilkins (Guard, Georgia)

The only surprise that would come out of training camp is if Joe Smith makes it out with both knees intact. Practice kicks off at SNU next Monday and supposedly the Thunder's new threads will be unveiled then as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Thunder will be in NBA 2K9

The logo will at least be in NBA 2K9.

Click HERE and scroll to videos and watch the newest one (Sept. 22) and look at the logos. "Thunder" scrolls by at seven seconds in.

A screen cap of it:

No telling what they're going to do about jerseys though, seeing as they don't exist yet. (The Oklahoman reported today that the uniforms will be out next Monday - home is white and road is sky blue).

From what I've read, NBA Live '09 hasn't updated to have the Thunder in it. The screenshots show that it looks like the summer league logo will be representing Oklahoma City with no mention of Thunder at all. But they make last minute changes or make a patch available online.

The days of video games seem to have passed me by, but I'm really pumped about having OKC in a video game and I'm sure other Oklahomans are as well. It's kind of the "holy crap, this is for real" moment for me to see OKC in a video game.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The first great Thunder tradition

So OKC's first and only pro sports franchise is just a few months old but that's not too soon to start the first and possibly best tradition for Thunder basketball.

Basically every sports franchise has something unique to it that its fans know about and appreciate. But the really great ones - the ones that everyone aspires to be - have traditions that most everyone know about.

Seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field. Sweet Caroline in Boston. The Lakers' girls. The Yankee roll call and New York, New York after ball games. The list goes on and on. But my favorite professional sports tradition is one that comes from my favorite professional sports franchise - 41,000 Cubs fans singing in unison Steve Goodman's Go Cubs Go! after Chicago home wins. The feeling of unity and camaraderie that you feel is indescribable.

So this tradition will not include anything about Thunder. I have a feeling that OKC fans will be all Thundered out after a little bit when we're hit with "Thunderstruck," "Thunder Rolls," "Thunder Road," the "Thundercats" theme and anything else that may contain "Thunder" or anything that remotely sounds like it. We may hear "The Wonder Years" theme remixed to "The Thunder Years." Frankly, I'm going to get tired of it.

I propose after Oklahoma City home victories instead of playing Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" or something cliche', play Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain." Now granted, we'll probably only hear the song a handful of times this season, which is a shame.

Reasons the song is perfect?

1. It has nothing to do with Thunder. Like I said, we get it - the team's name is Thunder. Since the announcement, Thunder has received about the same response as Crystal Pepsi. Some say "cool!" some say "sucks" and most say "meh." So embrace what we all can agree on - that Oklahoma is the best dang state in the land.

2. It's just classic enough to be a 'classic' but obscure enough not to be cliche'.
Like I said, it isn't "Celebration" or "Let the Good Times Roll" or some other jock-rock stadium anthem that's been played to death. It's fresh and yet well-known at the same time.

3. The line.
Just like 41,000 at Wrigley singing "Go Cubs go, go Cubs go... hey Chicago whadaya say, the Cubs are gonna win today!" sends chills down my spine, 18,000 at the Ford Center singing "Well I've never been to heaven... BUT I'VE BEEN TO OKLAHOMA!!! They tell me I was born there, but I really don't remember." Incredible.

The Thunder needs something like this. Thunderstruck can introduce the team, but Never Been to Spain must take us home.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thunder dance team set

Here it is. I know everyone in the state was on pins and needles waiting for this. Yes! Crystal from Dallas made it! Woo!

The Oklahoma City Thunder hosted final auditions for its 2008-09 dance team, Thursday night at Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar and Grill” in Bricktown. With a process that started with over 180 women last Sunday, 41 competed for a place on the team, and judges narrowed the selection down to 20 talented dancers.

Dance team hopefuls performed in pairs on Thursday night in front of over 500 Thunder fans. Of the 41 dancers to make the squad, six come from Oklahoma City, three from Texas, and one from as far away as Springdale, AR.

Auditions were open to females over the age of 18, who were energetic, had dance experience and were interested in performing at Thunder home games.

Below is the 2008-09 Thunder dance team roster:

1. Katie, hometown Oklahoma City, OK
2. Jada, hometown Oklahoma City, OK
3. Shereka, hometown Muskogee, OK
4. Erica, hometown Midwest City, OK
5. Crystal, hometown Dallas, TX
6. Sheri, hometown Dallas, TX
7. Kimberly, hometown Norman, OK
8. Ashley, hometown Shawnee, OK
9. Hayley, hometown Springdale, AR
10. Riane, hometown Oklahoma City, OK
11. Lauren, hometown Oklahoma City, OK
12. Christhian, hometown Oklahoma City, OK
13. Lindsay, hometown Edmond, OK
14. Nicole, hometown Mustang, OK
15. Brittany, hometown Oklahoma City, OK
16. Amy, hometown Long View, TX
17. Brittany, hometown Edmond, OK
18. LaTeshia, hometown Moore, OK
19. Natalie, hometown Altus, OK
20. Megan, hometown McCloud, OK

Well, this guy pretty much nailed it

The Denver Egotist's take on the new logo. And I must say, it's pretty spot on. Hard to justify or feel good about it after reading that. (Just click the image to see it bigger.)

Seriously, four colors? And I've mentioned the "Thunder Oklahoma City" thing. And like I said before, why not replace the shield with the outline of Oklahoma? Frustrating.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop had this to say about it though:
"None of this much matters to the quality of the product on the court, and I suspect this level of scrutiny is mainly a product of the negativity surrounding the ownership. Plenty of organizations survive poor logo design."
Very true Henry. If the Toronto Raptors can make the playoffs, so can we.

Get your Thunder seats now!

Before they run out. The team only has the $10 upper-deck seats left. If you want season tickets, you better get on the horn now.

From The Oklahoman:

"There will be a waiting list for Thunder season tickets. Just not yet. Thunder officials announced Thursday night that slightly less than 1,000 season tickets remain. All remaining tickets are $10 upper deck seats that will go on sale at 8 a.m. today. 'We are down to a precious few remaining seats,' said team spokesman Dan Mahoney. 'We will be open and encourage fans to keep their Friday appointments. By purchasing them, you become a Thunder season ticket member and enjoy all the benefits that brings, including securing your opportunity for future upgrades.'"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The name doesn't totally Thundersuck

It sucks, but not that bad.

Regardless of the name I have a favorite team. When a team is yours, they your favorite no matter what the name. It's unfortunate that ownership went with such a cheap, corny name, but hey, at least a ball will bounce in the Ford Center this fall. They could have called them the Oklahoma City Cuddlestorm or even worse, the Oklahoma City Energy and I'd still be calling the box office getting my Loud City seats.

Let's face it though - it's a WNBA name. It's true. The Sky, the Storm, the Fire. "The OKC Thunder vs. the Atlanta Dream... TONIGHT!" But that doesn't mean I won't support them. Heck, Tampa Bay still supports their team and they're the Rays. Well, all five to six hundred do.

The point is, the name is new. It stinks because it's new. I remember a few years ago when Charlotte called itself the Bobcats, everyone hated it. That's the way it goes. The colors, the logo, the name all sucks because it's new and different. In ten years it will be as household as the Orlando Magic and we'll forget all about it. Toronto Raptors. Toronto... RAPTORS. Worst. Name. Ever. But you know what, it works now. Because it's just become a household name.

The logo has some issues though. First off, why is Thunder above OKC? Are we the Thunder Oklahoma City? It isn't grammatically correct. Secondly, I wish there was something "Oklahoman" in the logo. Instead of the shield, why not put the outline of our great state?

But one thing I'd recommend for all fans is to put the Thunder logo next to other NBA logos. It might make you feel better. For instance:

What is it? Anything? A basketball that is moving with a name through it?

Or this:

Strikingly similar to the one above. Same font, same idea... but yet, somehow this is considered classic. Know why? Because it's stood the test of time. And Laker doesn't even have anything to do with Los Angeles. It was just brought over from Minneapolis in the Lakers' move. You know why they work? Because the Lakers' logo is from 1960 and the Clippers from 1978. We're used to them.

Management chose to go with a neutral logo that could *fingers crossed* become a classic one day. They didn't bust out some corny logo a la the Washington Wizards or Golden State Warriors. Those two stink. Besides, what do you do with something that isn't tangible like Thunder? Wrap 'Thunder' around a drawing of God bowling? I do hope the mascot is buffalo related though because that will at least tie it back to Oklahoma. I don't know if Clay Bennett knows this but tornadoes does not equal thunder. Thunder happens everywhere, not just the Oklahoma.

The point is, get over the name and appreciate the team for what it is. If you live in the Sooner State, it's your top squad. I'd have called them something different but oh well. I'd have chosen black and yellow for Thunder because when I hear Thunder (the name, not the actual thing) I think nighttime (dark/black) and lightning (yellow). But that's me. Check out other names and logos and really think about them. The Nets' logo is bland. The Heat logo isn't real creative. The Bobcats' logo just plain stinks. Besides, with most expansion/new teams, the logo changes in a few years anyway.

The key to making it work is:

1. Good uniforms. They need a solid, simple design that can be considered classic from the get-go. You know you've got a good uni when 20 years from now it's throwback night and you're still wearing the same duds you had on 20 years ago. One major thing: they need to read Oklahoma City on the front and not Thunder. Most NBA teams have their city/state name across the front, not their nickname. And with a nickname as lame-o as Thunder, cut your losses and just put OKC.

2. An interesting mascot. Something we don't expect. I'm down with the thundering buffalo approach but not too much of it, or you'll make me thing we should be called the Thundering Buffalo. No lightning bolts, please. Thunder isn't lightning. I know some people confuse the two, but they aren't the same. Thunder isn't really a tangible thing so it makes it hard, but don't just cop out and put a really scary looking wall cloud or anything. Gary England would freak.

3. Win. Who cares what you look like when you're beating the basketballs off people. As long as you win your mascot could be Rosie O'Donnell in a two-piece and it wouldn't matter.

We weren't going to blow anyone away with our logo. We'd tried to stay classy and not cartoony. Some across the country say we failed, but oh well. Most people don't like us anyway because they don't like how we got them. Who cares. They're ours and they're here to stay.