What a shocking turn of events.
This entire NBA offseason, I was under the impression the Thunder would trade Steven Adams. Never did I imagine losing Paul George in the madness of free agency.
With several years remaining on his contract with Oklahoma City, I’m sure no one else thought he’d be playing somewhere else, either.
I was dumbfounded when Seth Olson, my good friend and The Lawton Constitution sports editor, sent me this text at 1:01 a.m. on Saturday morning.
“Holy cow Paul George GONE”
I thought he was kidding. It wouldn’t have been the first time one of us pulled the other’s leg in a similar situation.
Heck, Olson didn’t even believe me when I told him OKC acquired George in a blockbuster trade in 2017.
I wasn’t joking, and neither was he.
And things haven’t gotten any better for the Thunder since this announcement, either.
It seems likely Russell Westbrook will be traded as well, blowing up the final remains of what once was a title-contending franchise.
As of July 8 at 5 p.m., Westbrook is still with OKC, though rumblings of him heading to the Miami Heat are starting to surface.
Regardless of what happens next, the Thunder organization needs its fans more than ever.
OKC has undoubtedly been spoiled with the team’s success.
The Thunder have missed the playoffs only twice — the inaugural season in 2009 and in 2015 when Westbrook and Kevin Durant missed most of the season with injuries.
OKC even made four appearances in the Western Conference Finals from 2011 to 2016, including an NBA Finals berth in 2012.
Now the Thunder are entering their darkest hour. They haven’t been a contender since Durant left in 2016, and they likely won’t be again for some time.
With losing seasons on the horizon, many fans might opt to find a different team to root for.
Don’t do that. Don’t be a fairweather fan.
It is OK to not watch them as much because the entertainment value will surely dip once the roster gutting is complete, but that doesn’t mean one should lose his or her fandom.
I, personally, will always be a Thunder fan. I have great pride in my hometown and my state.
That is also a reason I support both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in college athletics.
I was a Thunder supporter when the team went 23-59 in the 2008-09 season, and I will be after this mess.
You should be, too.
Let’s ‘Rise Together’ and show the world the staggering spirit of Oklahoma.