Thursday, May 02, 2013

5/2 (Not Very OKC) Quickie

Have a point to make about the post-Westbrook Thunder in light of last night's loss, but first a quick point:

I've been doing this daily morning column for USA TODAY Sports for five or six weeks now, and yesterday's edition -- leading with a full 32-team ranking of fits for Tim Tebow as an NFL free agent -- was so massively popular (the most widely read thing on, not just that it just underscores the huge interest in all things Tebow.

My challenge is the same one since I started writing about Tebow obsessively at four years ago -- there are plenty of ways to simply take advantage of the situation by creating Tebow click-bait. I hate that. If I'm writing about Tebow, I'm doing it because (a) it is legitimately a big story that particular day, and (b) I'm doing it entirely uncynically. Yesterday's column was actually something I had been looking to do ever since it was clear Tebow was leaving the Jets. It is of a piece of what I did before the 2010 draft, when I meticulously covered which teams might want to draft him.

The point is that people really really really like to read about Tim Tebow -- folks in the media can serve that interest either for good or for evil. I'm going for "good."

It would have been really easy to go back to the Tebow well today -- actually, not easy at all, because there isn't much/anything to say today. I found the situation in Oklahoma City WAY more interesting:

Basically, the Thunder are done. It might happen this round (which, because they were up 3-0, would be astonishing) but it will certainly happen before they have a chance to get back to the NBA Finals, which was nothing short of a presumption heading into the playoffs. At this point, based on losing last night at home to the Rockets -- along with a general problem ever since Westbrook went down -- I can't see them beating the Spurs, and I'm not sure they can beat the battle-tested survivor of Grizzlies-Clippers. And, again, staggeringly, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they lose Game 6 in Houston, then -- reeling -- lose a toss-up Game 7 back in Oklahoma City.

But the takeaway is that the presumption of inevitability that the Thunder would advance to the NBA Finals has been replaced by a presumption of inevitability that they are going to fall short of that.

It's a really interesting dynamic (even more interesting than the passion play between the Celtics and Knicks, where the C's are one Game 6 win in Boston away from teeing up their own unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 series deficit in the NBA Playoffs.) Give today's column a read -- thanks!

-- D.S.

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