By Randy Renner, Senor Writer
Most folks here in Oklahoma and probably several other fiercely independent places, Texas comes to mind for one, hate being told how they ought to do things.
They especially hate hearing it from anyone on either coast telling them (because they’re poor, under educated hicks in flyover country) they’re doing it all wrong.
The Golden State Warriors are making a habit of telling other NBA teams they’re not handling their business up to Warriors’ standards.
And this from an organization that until recently couldn’t take two steps forward without tripping over its sneaker laces…has a player (Draymond Green) who has a habit of kicking other players (Steven Adams, Blake Griffin) either below the belt in right square in the head…and another player (Andre Iguodala) who compared his head coach to a plantation owner in slave days.
First came the story toward the end of last season in the New York Times, which quoted Warriors’ majority owner Joe Lacob as saying his organization is “light years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things.”
Even though the Spurs, playing in little old backwater San Antonio have some how managed to string together 18 straight 50-win seasons (an NBA record) and five NBA Championships by (hearing the Warriors tell it) apparently using only an abacus and smoke signals.
Now comes a piece from ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes in which he quotes anonymous (of course) league sources as saying the Warriors management was “furious and bewildered” by what it perceived as the inactivity from Oklahoma City Thunder leadership leading up to Kevin Durant’s first return to OKC on February 11th and that that inactivity contributed to a “hostile atmosphere” for Durant.
The arrogance of the Warriors to plant a story telling another organization how it should handle its business is almost shocking.
Thunder fans of course greeted Durant with deafening boos all night long and many wore tee-shirts depicting cupcakes. The Warriors are back in town for a nationally televised game tonight (TNT) and though Durant won’t play he is with the team and could sit on the Warriors bench during the game, though the ESPN.com story makes it sound like he’s probably too butthurt to come out of the lockerroom.
Here is more from Chris Haynes’ ESPN.com story…
Sources say the Warriors were of the mindset that someone from ownership or management should have addressed the media on Durant's behalf to help ease the tension upon his return.
The feeling is that Durant should have been acknowledged or thanked, in a news conference setting, for his nine years of excellent service.
The Warriors' belief, according to sources, is that the Thunder's silence contributed to the raw emotions, outrage and indignation that created an unsettling, hostile atmosphere for a player many consider to be the franchise's all-time best.
The Warriors felt, according to sources, that for a player who meant so much to a city -- a small-market city at that -- a courtesy greeting was in order from top brass, who should have issued their fans a reminder and proper perspective on Durant's role in elevating the Thunder into a perennial championship-contending team.
Yeah, there it is, the Thunder “should have issued their fans a reminder and proper perspective on Durant’s role” blah, blah blah, because of course all us hick Okies aren’t capable of figuring out complicated things like perspective.
Even had they done that Thunder fans would have reacted the same way…February 11th was the first time they had a chance to let Durant know how they felt about his move out of town. How much it hurt, how much it stung, how much it cut right into their hearts.
So you’re damn right they booed, and more than likely they will boo again tonight and boo again if the Thunder and Warriors meet in the playoffs.
And oh by the way Thunder GM Sam Presti went to great lengths to thank Durant for his efforts with the Thunder during a news conference only hours after Durant announced his decicision. Presti also provided a statement to ESPN.com’s Royce Young in the days leading up to that February 11th game.
"We are very appreciative of Kevin's contributions during the first eight years of the Thunder. As we have said, they're a big reason for the foundation that we stand on today. He, in partnership with many teammates, invested a great deal in helping to build a culture and identity for a franchise in its infancy stages, one whose accomplishments and identity we should all take great pride in representing.
"When Kevin made the decision to leave and move on from Oklahoma and the Thunder, we responded in a manner that is consistent with how the Thunder tries to conduct itself, and I am incredibly proud of the people across our entire organization and the professionalism they have demonstrated. They have embraced Kevin's past with the Thunder while sensibly and passionately investing in those that stand with us as we continue our work in Oklahoma with an inspired and positive outlook.
"We are fortunate to have people like Russell, Nick, Steven and Billy in place, individuals who care deeply about the Thunder and what it stands for in our community and who are proud of their contributions to date, yet driven and honored to write our next chapter together."
Thunder chairman Clay Bennett never speaks to the media, much less holds a full-blown news conference. Presti generally meets with the media just before a season starts, just after it ends and also usually on draft night, trade deadline day and after major free agent signings.
As team policy the Thunder do not do video tributes for former players or coaches, mostly because the Thunder tend to believe in the old adage ‘there is no I in team.’ Generally when a former player returns for the first time the team’s public address announcer will say ‘please welcome back to Oklahoma City…Kendrick Perkins, or Serge Ibaka, or James Harden or Scott Brooks.’
The Thunder aren’t saying exactly why that didn’t happen with Durant, why they just introduced him normally as a member of the Warriors starting lineup, but more than likely they didn’t want the embarrassment of urging a crowd who was intent on booing Durant to instead welcome him warmly. Add in the fact that Durant wasn’t traded but had gone willingly to a rival team added to that.
Plus, considering Russell Westbrook had re-committed to the Thunder, the organization surely didn’t want to bend over backwards in praising a former player whom Westbrook clearly believed then (and still does now) had stabbed him and his teammates in the back.
The Warriors could have let this sleeping dog just lie there. As late as Friday Durant wasn’t expected to make the trip, he hadn’t gone on the road with the Warriors since his injury. But at the last minute the Warriors and Durant decided he’d made enough progress to get back on the team plane and wouldn’t you know it the first trip up was another return to OKC.
Now comes this story slamming Thunder management for mishandling Durant’s first return, perhaps in the hope fans will praise him and cheer him and the Thunder will provide a stirring tribute this time around to the man who abandoned his teammates.
Don’t bet on it.
And after this latest story from the land of ultra-wacko, politically correct Northern Cali don’t be surprised if the boos are even louder tonight. Pitchforks are optional.