DANNY ONEIL

O’Neil: Raise a glass to the demise of the most loathsome team in the league

Apr 25, 2018, 12:24 PM | Updated: 12:24 pm
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The Oklahoma City Thunder are one loss away from failing to win a championship for the 10th consecutive season. (AP)
(AP)

The beer should be on ice.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are one loss away from failing to win a championship for the 10th consecutive season, and I made a tradition of toasting the team’s annual demise with an appropriate Northwest classic: Red Hook’s Extra Special Bitter. I’m going to need some help with that this year, but I’ll explain that in a bit.

I’m one of five people in Seattle who still loves the NBA, and over the past decade, I’ve come around to accept and even embrace the fact that the single most consistently enjoyable thing about the league isn’t rooting for my favorite team, the Warriors. It’s rooting against the Thunder.

I don’t even feel bad about it anymore. I cheered for the Warriors through two decades of nearly constant futility, but once the league’s second-best player joined up with the league’s second-best team two years ago, the deck was prohibitively stacked. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Warriors and feel no misgivings about the fact that they’re going to win a third title in four years. But I didn’t enjoy any of the Warriors’ playoff victories last season as much as I relished the Thunder’s loss in Utah on Monday.

It was an absolutely glorious experience. One that moved me to start randomly searching out Thunder fans on Twitter to troll them.


It was totally petty, completely unnecessary and utterly enjoyable.

Look, I’m not exactly proud of how I feel about the Thunder. It’s incredibly immature and doesn’t accomplish anything in the end. After all, pointing out that someone else is short doesn’t make you tall. But I’m not going to pretend I don’t feel a deep degree of satisfaction that while we’re missing our NBA team, they’re stuck with one that is in the very worst place to be in the NBA: high-centered in mediocrity.

Russell Westbrook is too good for the team to be truly bad and acquire the high-end draft picks that could make an impact. He’s not good enough to win a playoff series in the oh-so-stacked Western Conference, either. Not even this season when the Thunder acquired the corpse of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, who’s currently locked in a head-to-head battle with some Australian named Joe Ingles, who would be mistaken for a janitor if he wasn’t 6 feet 7.

Did I mention how much I am enjoying this?

I don’t want the Thunder to win. Ever. I don’t like their colors. I don’t like their stupid singular nickname, and when I see ESPN mention the Thunder breaking a franchise record that was formerly held by an actual Seattle Sonic it makes me want to punch someone in the throat.


I don’t hate Thunder fans, per se. But I don’t ever want them to be happy or fulfilled by their basketball team, either. I want the whole endeavor to bring them unending pain, and I suspect that this feeling will remain even after Seattle gets an NBA team back.

I will never stop enjoying the Thunder’s failure to win a championship, and I am currently relishing the fact that the team is getting further and further from it.

The Thunder were a game away from reaching the NBA Finals just two years ago, but Oklahoma City lost a 3-1 series lead over Golden State and then lost Kevin Durant to Golden State in free agency. Now, the Thunder are stuck in that never-never land of a team that is too good to rebuild but not good enough to truly contend and about to be bounced from the playoffs by a Utah Jazz team that doesn’t have a single All-Star.

I’d like to drink to their failure. I really, really would. But I quit drinking a year ago this past Sunday, and while I’d like to say that my final bender was spurred by the Thunder’s postseason exit a year ago, that doesn’t have the benefit of being true. My decision to stop drinking was the result of 25 years of fairly dogged research into the effects of alcohol on my life after all, I am nothing if not persistent.
So if the Jazz beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Wednesday or if the Utah win comes Friday when the series reverts to Salt Lake City, I’ll ask you to raise a glass to the demise of the most loathsome team in the league.

It’s our bitter toast, after all. A Seattle tradition!

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O’Neil: Raise a glass to the demise of the most loathsome team in the league