For the first time since their Sooner State arrival, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be making an appearance in the NBA Finals, beating the San Antonio Spurs with a 107-99 win on Wednesday. Players like Kevin Durant,Russell Westbrook,and James Harden have helped carry this team to a place where many felt they weren’t ready to do quite yet. They had heard it all– they’re too young, too inexperienced, not tough enough to take down the big teams. Well,they did, and now they’re heading to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1996 (when they were known as the Seattle SuperSonics).
A lot of so-called “experts” don’t think the Thunder being in the Finals is going to be any good for the league. They’re not in a big market where they have a lot of fans. In my view, the Thunder being in the NBA Finals is just what the doctor ordered for a league that, for the longest time, has cared about having it’s larger markets succeed. This is a win for all small market NBA fans and I am one of them and it’s a change of pace from seeing teams like the Lakers win. When you’re watching a league who’s only had nine champions since 1980, it’s nice to see different teams contending for a title rather than the same teams and same players. To me it makes for a boring league unlike the NFL which is full of parity which the last time I checked, fans seem to like.
I’m also glad that a likable superstar like Durant is competing for a championship. To me he is the anti-LeBron if I’ve ever seen one. Unlike James, who had a national television appearance to announce where he was headed via free agency in 2010, Durant quietly announced on Twitter that he would sign an extension was staying with Oklahoma City. Not only that but he likes to see his teammates get as much attention as he does. This is a player that,in my view, would be difficult to get behind (unless you live in Seattle, then I totally understand!). Not only that, he looks alright with glasses on in press conferences.
I hope OKC’s appearance is the beginning of a trend of seeing more small markets having success and going to championships. it’s a quiet hope and more than anything is just wishful thinking on my part, but as a small market fan, you always hope things can change.