PRYOR, OK —
I'm a huge Thunder fan.
I figured the secret would come out eventually, and the more the Thunder win and the further they go in the playoffs, the more I'll talk about them in this space.
But it's not just because they are an NBA team — the first major sports franchise we've had in the state — but because they are the right team. There are so many storylines that make the Thunder fun to follow.
They are built the right way, with the right players and the right management. They are succeeding on a very high level with very little experience and without the storied tradition of, say, the Lakers or the Celtics.
They do have former players with title rings from both of those teams on their current roster though, because those players (Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins) understand the culture and the process behind building a title-caliber team.
The Thunder also have hero-status in the league, not just because of lovable Kevin Durant and fiery sidekick Russell Westbrook, but because they have the one thing that every great hero needs.
In the Lakers/Celtics heyday of the '80s, and the '90s rivalries between Chicago and the rest of the league (Detroit, Indiana and Utah come to mind), there was no "good" or "bad" character in the story. There was just Bird vs. Magic, or Jordan vs. Laws of Physics and Gravity.
In Thunder vs. Heat we have clear-cut villains and heroes. We have Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James. We have Russell Westbrook vs. Dwyane Wade. We have wunderkind Thunder General Manager Sam Presti vs. coldhearted Heat GM Pat Riley — who, in my opinion, even looks like a guy who would make you sign away your soul in blood for a a three-year contract.
Riley, who coached the Lakers in the '80s against former Celtic and current Boston GM Danny Ainge, recently told Ainge to "shut the f--- up" via — get this — a statement released through an official Heat spokesman.
So, yeah, we have ourselves a villain.
After what I've told you, it may come as no surprise that my favorite movie — "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" — shares many of the same qualities as our current NBA landscape.
I see Kevin Durant as Clint Eastwood (Blondie). He's the quiet guy who always finishes the job, and he takes up an alliance with Tuco (played by Russell Westbrook) against ruthless bounty hunter Angel Eyes (LeBron James).
Angel Eyes and his gang get the better of Blondie and Tuco in the earlier part of the movie (like Miami in last year's Finals) but ultimately, Blondie and Tuco (sort of) win the day.
There's a part in "Good, Bad, Ugly" where Tuco is taking a bath in a ruined town when one of Angel Eyes' gang busts down Tuco's door and lectures Tuco for what seems like an eternity on all the reasons why he is going to kill him.
Tuco, who has been hiding a gun beneath the bubbles, shoots the intruder instead and says simply, "If you're going to shoot, shoot! Don't talk!"
Now is the time for the Thunder to shoot.