Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sagging power lines and idle oil derricks...

Read this article on SI.com and you'll be flabbergasted. I typically don't make a big deal out if it whenever the NY Times or some other paper writes a glowing article on OKC, or when SI or ESPN blowhards repeatedly show us that they don't actually travel to games anywhere besides New York, LA, Chicago, and the usual suspects.

But this is especially deserving of being brought up because it goes above and beyond the usual crap that sportswriters come up with about OKC (which by the way completely contradicts what every travel writer or urban critic has said that has toured OKC).
On most mornings Kevin Durant, the best NBA player most people never get to see, drives his extralong conversion van 10 minutes from his house in the suburbs of Oklahoma City to the Thunder's practice facility, which if not technically in the middle of nowhere is at least on its outskirts. He passes sagging power lines and idle oil derricks and vast fields of brittle yellow grass pocked with snow before turning onto a two-lane road and, just past the John Deere factory, pulling into the parking lot of the practice center, a converted roller rink. Unfolding his 6'9" frame from the van, Durant ambles past the odd rabbit lounging in the shrubbery and enters the gym for another day of work, all the while engulfed by the scent of ... well, what is that exactly?

"Dog food," says Durant. "And it stinks, man; it really stinks." As it turns out, there is a hulking Purina plant just down the road, churning out untold tons of pet chow weekly, but Durant takes the, um, ambience in stride, just as he does many other not-so-glamorous elements of playing in the smallest market in the NBA. These include the weather (cold), the nightlife (hello, Denny's!) and the TV exposure (two national appearances this season, or 27 fewer than the Cavaliers), all of which are supposed to be of great importance to NBA players, who are commonly envisioned as a flock of 7-foot homing pigeons all hatched in the same sweaty South Beach nightclub. But Durant claims not to mind. He says that he "loves it here," and once you spend some time around him, it becomes clear that he is not only sincere but also talking as much about the franchise as the city itself.

That's pretty bad huh? I don't know if these people really understand that you can't write this kind of crap about a city with 1.3 million people? Not just because it's untrue, but because..what's the point? What does anyone possibly have to gain by going so far out of their way to paint a picture that is blatantly erroneous about an entire city? Why go to those lengths to upset 1.3 million people? It's unfathomable.

The weather-cold. The nightlife-hello, Denny's! (oh come on, we have IHOP at least!) TV exposure-well it's not the Cavs (you know, in that urban jewel that is Cleveland).

What is it really like in OKC? Well apparently anywhere in the city feels like the middle of nowhere. Instead of the typical development you see in other cities, OKC has sagging power lines, idle oil derricks all over the place, brittle yellow grass covered in snow, nothing but two-lane roads, John Deere factories, and so on. Did the writer mistakenly keep driving through Deer Creek until he got to Guymon? I don't think even Guymon could sound as bad once you factor in the Purina pet chow smell lofting through the air.

And idle oil derricks, really? This is an oil derrick..maybe he means an oil well. I suppose it's fitting that not even that is correct when the entire article is grasping for straws to make it sound like KD is playing basketball on Mars or something.

Speaking of the market, the article also refers to OKC as the smallest NBA market. Well! There are actually several smaller markets. New Orleans, Memphis, Salt Lake, and I believe Sacramento are all JUST a tad smaller than OKC. Never mind the most important fact that OKC has far and above been the most successful small market the NBA has entered, in the mold of Salt Lake, Charlotte, and San Antone.

Or is there perhaps a more subtle reason that someone could write such a misinformed, inappropriate article that is actually published in a major publication? KD becomes a free agent after this year, and the Thunder also have the largest amount of gap space when it comes to the salary cap. No other team is as well positioned to attract some big names to its roster than the Thunder. No other team has fostered as much young talent as well as the Thunder either. Sounds like Sam Presti is doing a helluva job in a hick town. What if the "NBA establishment" can successfully portray OKC as such a ridiculous place that Sam Presti can no longer be successful in Oklahoma, KD gets snatched away, and no talented players will even go near the Thunder?

That's the only reasonable explanation I can fathom after reading this article. That someone actually came to OKC and wrote the article isn't an option, and I also find it highly unlikely that anyone who wrote that could have honestly believed a word of it.

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