There’s a lot to like about the Oklahoma City Thunder Model. Home-grown stars, patient team-building, responsible cap management, respectful player hierarchy and one of the league’s best and most loyal fanbases.
Of course, if it was as attainable as Sam Presti, Kevin Durant and company have made it seem over the last several years, we’d see far more organizations enjoying success. It’s not, but that doesn’t mean loose iterations don’t exist, franchises that combine some attributes of what make the Thunder archetype so desirable.
And all of them begin and end with the same two traits that are the hallmarks of their original standard in Oklahoma City – top-shelf talent acquired through the draft and dedicated, knowledgeable fans that understand the championship process.
Sound like a team you know?
I wrote about 2012-2013 being an established success for the Warriors last month, when the team clinched its first playoff berth since 2007. Nobody anticipated this amount of playoff success back then, either, only confirming the original assertion made back on April 10th,
No matter how this season ends, know that it is and was always going to be a stepping stone for future ones.
Win or lose tonight, advance or fall short of the Western Conference Finals, Golden State has shown the NBA world it will be a force to be reckoned with over the next several years. That’s of chief importance to remember tonight, as the natural crush of a potential loss could get the best of Oracle’s emotions.
A game 6 failure won’t be that at all in the bigger picture, and that’s what matters most should the Warriors lose tonight, and it’s also when we need to look to the Thunder Model again. Say what you will about Chesapeake Energy Arena’s lame t-shirt patterns or its staunch bias with regard to 50/50 calls, but the understanding, belief and unbreakable spirit of its inhabitants.
That unique fandom is on display on a nightly basis, but never more than when the Thunder come up short of their ultimate goal and are eliminated from the playoffs at home.
We saw it in 2010 when Oklahoma City’s puppies pushed made the champion Lakers earn a game 6 win and the crowd stayed past the final buzzer, on their feet encouraging their upstarts with uniform chants and raucous applause. And we saw it last night, too, as the short-handed Thunder – three years older and coming off a Finals appearance but fatally flawed without Russell Westbrook – were eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies, and that same faithful cried “O-K-C! O-K-C!” as Durant and his teammates walked off the floor for the last time.
The Warriors deserve similar adulation tonight. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter.
Steph Curry’s rapid ascent warrants undaunted celebration, as does Andrew Bogut’s persistent vigor. Klay Thompson’s developing defense needs praise, and Harrison Barnes’ postseason rise does, too. The bench contributions of Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack merit special attention, and the surprisingly influential play of Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli demand Oracle’s gallant acclaim as well.
This team is on the rise whether the season extends past tonight or not. If Golden State faithful are indeed the fanbase of new Roaracle lore, they’ll act like it by following the Thunder Model when the game’s final buzzer sounds. It’s worked for the Warriors so far.
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