O’Neil: Portland provides Sonics fans most satisfying end to Thunder season
I’m not sure it could have been any better, which is to say that it probably couldn’t have been any worse for the team I like to see lose more than any other: Oklahoma City.
Excuse me: Choklahoma City.
Yep, the Thunder gacked. Again. Up 11 points with 6 minutes to play and ahead by six points with 2 minutes left, Oklahoma City watched as Damian Lillard made a game-tying layup and then hit a winning 3-pointer from outer space as time expired to clinch Portland’s playoff series victory.
🗣M 🗣V 🗣P 🗣 pic.twitter.com/iu9Rz77UyQ
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 24, 2019
It was the most satisfying end to a Thunder season yet, which is actually saying something because I didn’t think anything would top 2016 when Oklahoma City blew a 3-1 lead to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals, the prelude to Kevin Durant’s free-agent departure.
But that year the Thunder actually won two series and rightfully could argue it had the team that set the record for regular-season victories on the ropes. And were it not for Klay Thompson’s heroics in Game 6, the Thunder would have gone to the Finals.
There was no saving grace for this year’s defeat. No consolation. The Thunder had two of the three best players on the floor in this series against the Blazers and managed to win all of one game before watching Lillard cut them up six ways to Sunday before delivering one final twist of the knife at the buzzer.
So crack open a Red Hook Extra-Special Bitter. I would if I still drank, but I don’t so I’ll just drown myself in the joy I feel when the Thunder help me get closer to answering the deeply philosophical question, “What’s the absolute most painful way to lose?”
Is it on a buzzer beater or a blowout? Is it to have a historically miserable season or to suffer a buzzer-beating loss on the brink of a championship? Is it worse to be unambiguously bad or to come up just short of being good?
Because whatever the worst way to lose, that’s exactly what I hope happens to the Oklahoma City Thunder, its owner(s) and anyone who draws so much as a sliver of satisfaction from the success of that team that was ripped out of this city thanks to the selfishness of a shameless dipstick (Howard Schultz) and the indifference of a petty and vengeful little man (David Stern).
I want the Thunder to lose more than I want any other NBA team to win, which makes me a petty, vindictive and small person. But today it also makes me a happy person because the Thunder’s season is over. In fact, I think this should be a holiday that gets celebrated in Seattle every year: O K C Ya’ Day.
It will be an annual tradition for the foreseeable future as the Thunder remain high-centered in mediocrity, which is the absolute worst place to be in the NBA.
They’re not bad enough to get the draft picks they need to become good and they’re not good enough to do much of anything of consequence. This team, which at one point included three guys who would go on to become league MVP in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, somehow wound up keeping only the worst one.
The fact the Thunder got ousted this year by a Portland team led by Damian Lillard, a guard who’s smaller than Westbrook, only makes it sweeter.
And I’m not alone. We’re now more than 10 years removed from the hijacking of our SuperSonics, and the Thunder are getting further from a title, not closer, which I think is becoming evidence of a curse that is lurking somewhere in the background, perhaps out of focus and famously difficult to spot.
Oh wait: There it is.
— Nanny O'Deil (@nannyodeil) April 24, 2019
May the curse continue, Oklahoma City. Your tears are the only NBA joy we know here in Seattle.
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