Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Being Torn Apart...(not about the Thunder)

"Where does the love of God go, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?" sang Gordon Lightfoot, decades ago.

Yet, there's a ring of truth for that, yesterday and today, here in the Heartland, as we reach, bend, and stretch our minds to find the love and grace of our God in the aftermath of yesterday's disaster.  

Barry Trammel wrote of the ultimate horror, "Where are the children?" 

And I wondered about the children, who cries for you?  Who cries out for you, when the things most sedentary, safe, and secure that you can imagine, are literally ripped out of your grasp?

What do you hold on to?  When you grasp a tree, a tree you couldn't fall with a car, without hours of work with an ax...and it is ripped up in seconds, along with you?

What do you depend on, when you're in a building, that in a million years you couldn't pull down with your 3rd grade hands, disintegrates around you?  You watch it being pulled apart in seconds...the roof above your head is gone, the walls rumbling and crumbling in on you.  When you see a car fly by...in the air?

What do you do, when you are in a storm shelter, and the door is ripped open, or off?  You did what you were supposed to do!  You took cover, you got in the cellar, only to have the Beast overcome your safehold.

There are things in this life that we depend upon each and every day, things we cannot move, break, and destroy...and we learn that these things are safe.  Buildings, homes, schools, and cars...only to have that innocent perspective ripped away from us in a flash by Mother Nature.

You reach out mentally, from home, wanting to help, not wanting to watch TV, but being pulled, like a black hole to the only information source that can help you find out more....morbidly watching, rationalizing that maybe there's something good about to happen.

Because, for most of us, we understand the dangers...and then we forget.  The day before, I watched a nice and beautiful storm swirling around our heads, hoping to see my first tornado live...even as the NWS, located here in Norman stopped momentarily monitoring to seek shelter themselves.  10 minutes later, that beautiful swirl dropped a tornado that killed two.  Yesterday the Monster drove through Moore like a gigantic bulldozer...destroying everything in its way.

Then it isn't fun anymore, it isn't interesting...still fascinating, you watch the TV...literally staring at something that looks like a fake monster eating up a town...it is surreal, and somewhere in your head, you know that not everybody is going to be ok.  You slowly make the connection from 'awestruck' to 'serious and deadly situation'...and yet you can't quite meld the two together in a cohesive thought.  "Do I turn the TV off?"   "Do I keep watching?"  

I sent the kids outside, in the immediate aftermath...because of a quote I once heard..."you cannot unsee what you've seen".  Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I'll let a bit of their innocence escape to be stolen a bit later in life.

Then you realize it hit a school....two schools...and you see the pictures, and you hear the newscaster say "Oh NO...No....Oh my God"...and you do the same math in your mind...Not everybody will be ok.  There are people's children...that will no be ok.

My son forgot his lunch today, and I was barely able to hold it together as I walked down the hallway of his school to his room...imagining the walls being pulled, twisted, broken, with shit flying everywhere...I had to shut off for a minute.  I made it to my car, before I started to cry.

We ask "What do we do?  To cope?  How many times does the same damn town have to get hit?"...followed...by a sense of relief that it wasn't your city or town...Guilt, shame, angst, and amazement swirl around as you sit in your home, nice and safe.

You volunteer.  You give blood. You donate.  You see who you know that's affected, and help.  You move, that's what you do...numb with disappointment, grief, and serious violation of personal safety...yet spurned on by a sense of compassion, community and identity as an Oklahoman, or as most of our country today, an Oklahuman.  

Last night, before I went to bed...I watched as rescuers continued to dig through the rubble, looking for children and teachers.  I hoped...but, eventually you have to go to bed...there's another day to live tomorrow.  The practicality of life smacks you in the face, your kids have to go to school, you have to work, the world continues to turn.  It makes you want to scream "Stop for just a damn minute, World!!  Something very wrong just happened, and I'm quite ready to move on just yet!!"

As I tucked my kids in, they both told me that they no longer liked storms, and that the Joplin tornado hit in the middle of the night.  I told them that it was my job to keep them safe, and that I would be watching the weather, and that my phone beeped really loud when a warning came on....but, I was never able to shake the dad on TV, saying his daughter was still buried out there somewhere...it was his job too.

Frail, our grasp on life is...and control can be a serious illusion.

I don't know if the God I believe in hears tears as prayer, or if it even helped...but last night, and again today...

Who cries for the children....I do.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Ok, we lost.  Everybody get their "not suprised" look wiped off their face.  We had hope, we had heart, we just didn't have enough to do it without Russ.  

Which is a good thing, because last year, and the year before, there was a lot of talk about trading Russ...(courtesy of Uncle Skip), heck even I wondered two years ago if he'd ever settle down...

He didn't settle down, he just got more accurate...and lethal...and faster...and better.  

He'll still drive you nuts on days, but hey it is the NBA.

So, we lost, and here's a few things we're NOT gonna miss from this season:

- That sinking feeling of the end of the world, when Perk gets a long rebound and starts to lead the break.

- That idiotic notion that it would only happen to you once, when Kevin Martin catches a pass for a wide open 3...with his foot on the line.

- Wanting to throw a skillet through the TV when Serge makes his first three shots, gets 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the 1st quarter and then takes the next two quarters off.

- Biting the pillow in anger because Nick Collison got another foul for breathing on someone.

- Wondering who Ronnie Brewer pissed off to go from 700 minutes in the first half of the season to 114 in the second half.

- Checking to see who got the Pike Pass tonight.

- Seeing KD and Perk both shoot the ball with the opposite respective notions, "We know where this is headed".

- Wondering if Serge's girlfriend is jealous of the game ball.

- Trying to imagine how KD can have 55 points when it seems like he's missed every shot you wanted him to make.

- Checking the bench to see if Ronnie Brewer has any sharp objects or firearms pointed at himself.

- Trying to maintain your love of Scott Brooks, while at the same time trying not to cuss in front of your kids, "Scott, for the love...why the *&%$ is Nick on the bench?"

- Listening to any announcers but BD and Grant talk about missing Harden.  In fact, pretty much listening to any announcers but BD and Grant...because it seems nobody likes the Thunder, except for Hubie Brown and he's like 112.

- Wondering if Scott Brooks is ever gonna break his composure in a press conference and say something like "listen here, Perk's the best post defender in the NBA and if he never scores another point, I'll still play him".

- Wondering if Perk's ever gonna score another point.

And the last one....

- Watching Serge, Kmart, Reggie, and KD pass up a wide open 3 point shot, in lieu of giving to DFISH who's 5'4" and shoots over a 6'10" guy guarding him from 40 feet.

I'm probably done for the summer, but come draft time, or move time, keep a look out...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What we already know...

I promise this won't be long...  there's just no reason for it to be...

The Thunder closed out the Rockets, which was an excellent thing to do, and which was expected of them.  Kevin Martin stepped up, Derek Fisher played as he was intended to, when he was acquired a year ago...and all was good in the world.

Now we see Memphis, trading away one of their best scorers, (like OKC), to save $$$ in a small market team environment.  

We see a post-Westbrook Thunder team working through the playoffs.

Here's my take:

  •  Since February 19, 2008 only 3 games between the Grizzlies and Thunder have been decided by more than 10 points.
  •  In the first game, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, and Turnovers were very close.  In the second game, The Thunder were Rebounds -8, Assists -5, Steals -10, Turnovers +10.
  • Kevin Martin had 25 points in the first game, he had 6 in the second.
  • Thabo had 3 points in game 1, and 7 points in game 2.

The Grizzlies were simply scrappier in game 2.  Rebounds, assists, steals, and turnovers.

If the Thunder simply play hard, and up to their potential, they can win this series...and possibly the next.

However, they simply aren't.

  • Guys are taking nights off...and by that I mean they aren't producing their averages.
  •  Stop blaming Perkins for anything.  I intentionally put none of his stats here.  Why, because if Martin, Ibaka, and Sefalosha simply get 10 points a game...there's nothing to talk about.
  • Rebounding, Rebounding, Rebounding.  Offensively and Defensively.
The Thunder must realize that no play is over until it is either in the net, or in someone's hands.  Too many times this season, and particularly last night, we played awesome defense for 20 seconds, or got a block, or got a steal....and then we didn't chase down the ball with the very hard work we preach each and every day.  

Fast break...Durant comes out of nowhere to block the layup.  Martin and Jackson watch as Randolph grabs the block and puts it in...they quit at the freethrow line.  The play IS NOT OVER until the ball is in the net or in someone's hands...preferably our own.

We quit 2 seconds too early, we didn't follow through, and key players didn't drive hard enough to get points, or make up for points in the stat columns...and I'll include Perk in that category.

It's about work gentlemen, not awesome plays...and if Durant can get you 30-45 a night, you get paid more than well enough to step up, and dive for a ball, or pay a little more attention to blocking out...  

We've always scrapped against the Grizzlies...check our playoff records...this isn't about blowing anyone out, it's about rebounds, assists, and sticking with the plays on D until they are done.

Or we are...

Friday, May 3, 2013


The Second Season.  The Playoffs.  Go big or go home.  This is what they play for...

We can say it 15 different ways, and remain just as excited, nervous, scared, or depressed about it.

I spent the last two games on the edge of my seat...on the edge of a knife, slowly accepting the fate of a playoff run aborted.  Culminating in a partial self banishment as I watched the Thunder drizzle through game 5.

Thank you Beverley.


I've said those words probably a hundred times in the last week, out of the blue, for no reason.  

I don't hate the kid, he was making an aggressive play, trying to have an impact.  

Unfortunately, he had an impact.  I'm not gonna judge him anymore...unless I change my mind.

So, as we process the post-Westbrook Thunder NBA Playoff run of 2013, here are some thoughts.

- Danny Lee was injured.  Changed the Warriors...unpredictable.  They responded.

- Danilo Gallinari, gone for the season.  Warriors responded.  Denver, responded a bit, but like the Thunder, they were stunned, still are, and they are done.

- Bulls lose Hinrich and Deng, and without Rose, are still fighting.

- The season is unpredictable.

- It is still unpredictable.

I've heard many people, including myself discuss the Thunder's ability to get through Rounds 1 and possibly 2, but with no real potential for threatening the Conference Title or beating the Heat without Russell Westbrook.

I have awoken this morning with a different perspective.  Perhaps, it will help.

In our unpredictable post-season play, we have been very predictable in our assumptions.  We assume the Heat will win, we assume the Thunder will struggle in the next two rounds...all of which COULD HAPPEN, but we, of all fan bases should learn not to count our free-throws until the net whips.

There are no guarantees, for any team.  We need to remember that.  As to why the Thunder can't still make it to the Finals, and potentially win...  why not?  

Well, because the other teams are good.  This is true, but in an unpredictable game, you can't give up just because other teams are good and you've sustained a major blow due to injury.  

If Russell can take a hip check and be gone...one of the toughest players we've seen, with the longest consecutive playing streak...anything can happen.

So, as we look at our Thunder and our frustration with our lack of offensive efficiency and our defensive concerns...I'll point out the following...take it for what it is, I'm not even looking at stats this time.

- Scott Brooks needs to give his team confidence, from himself.  No more, "just get out there and try hard", but more like "we're going to stop them like this, and we're going to score like this...and if that doesn't work, we're going to do this"...specific coaching and leadership.  The team must know that he's got it in his head at a detail level and that he's leading them.

-KD  first things first.  On offense, do not create until you have to...  you have so many shots in your bag of tricks.  Every time, first time, see what they are giving you.  Game 3, KD got 21 in the first half, if you re-watch it, he simply took what they gave him...which was 5-6 17 footers in a 2 dribble pull up.  FACT:  Nobody in the league, much less the Rockets can defend two hard dribbles to the bucket and a pullup from Durant.  If they can't stop Russell, who's a foot shorter, then KEVIN, hit that sh*t all damn day.  We don't need dunks and don't need passes if they give you a 80% shot you can hit.  

-KD step II:  install a point guard floater.  One step into the lane, jump straight up and float it in...again, only Hasheem Thabeet is tall enough to go get that, and he's on your team.

- KD step III: passing, do it when you have to.  I don't need you to have confidence in KMart to finally hit one when he's 0 for 9 when you could do one or two of the previously mentioned moves.

-Everybody else:  just play ball.  Don't over-pass, it is cool to look like the Spurs, but Martin, you need to shoot it when you catch it in rhythm.  Twice the other night you caught the outer swing pass in shooting rhythm, but passed to someone more open than you.  Stop it.  Shoot the damn ball in rhythm.

- Fisher:  I know, I know, he's the DFish, loved, hated, decrepit, no defense...  stop feeling about Derek Fisher and just realize he's not a super star, he's just a dude that has rings and experience.  Experience that appeared to help us stay in a game we were desperately trying to lose.  I don't know if anyone noticed, and there weren't any box scores here, so yes, I'm preaching intangibles...Reggie got frustrated in the 3rd, then got tired...missed two shots, and threw the ball away in a 4 trip sequence...Fish took the ball and walked it up.  He just gave Reggie a break.  He didn't score, he didn't turn it over, he didn't save the day...he gave our point guard an on-court breather to calm down.  That's why he earns a paycheck.  That and the fact that he actually watches the shot clock and yes will jack up a 55 footer when it hits 2...unlike his team mates the other night who just passed on more time and let the buzzer sound.  He's not magic, but he's what we've got.  I wish we had Chauncy Billups too, but he didn't call with a low ball contract amount and say that he loves our team and wanted to be a part of it.

- Serge:  I've checked your HR records, you have no sick days, and no personal days...so you cannot take anymore days off...offensively or defensively.

- Perk:  Enjoy the first 5 minutes of each half, we've reached the part of the season where most fans think you should be wearing a suit on the sidelines, because they think Orton's a better choice than you.  Just do what you do...and keep Serge's head on straight. 

Here we go into the wild blue yonder...I hope the Rockets learn a few things tonight about resiliency...courtesy of the Rumble's Rowdies.