This NBA playoff season has been full of intrigue if nothing else. Seemingly, the narrative changes daily. The playoffs started with Golden State as the favorite, then we moved to Cleveland (who are still the favorite according to Vegas) and now it seems Oklahoma City has won the mind and heart of the people.
The narrative being in flux is understandable. The level of play has been subpar; there have been several 20 point blowouts, seven of which have been won by more than 30 points. The OKC Thunder lost game 1 against San Antonio by 32 points before winning the series in 6 games and although they have dominated the Warriors in this series, they did lose game 2 by 27 points. Essentially, nothing has been decided on the court as to who will be the eventual champion and in the words of Reverend Herm Edwards, “that’s why we play the game, HELLO!!!”
But one franchise has definitely won big during this playoff season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have won, and they’ve won big. The future of the franchise, once shrouded in uncertainty, now has a clear picture of the future and it includes one Kevin Wayne Durant. It has long been rumored KD would leave and go home to play for the Washington Wizards to Lon Angeles or anywhere he could to get away from Russell Westbrook and the underachieving OKC Thunder. However, this playoff run began; the team has gelled and are on the verge of beating what everyone believed to be the two best teams in basketball and returning to the NBA Final. Every win has inextricably tied KD to OKC.
According to reports, and “my sources” (I have always wanted to say that), KD has a strong affinity for home and John Wall. However after this playoff run, whether they ascend to The Finals and become eventual champions or come up short, he simply cannot leave this community and this franchise. The optics would be too strong; the move would be perceived as cowardice. You have a young talented franchise that has shown it can compete with anyone on any night? What are you running from? I never believed he would leave OKC, even with the allure of returning home and bringing hope and change to the DC area.
Oklahoma City is undergoing a major renaissance. The Bricktown section of the city is leading the charge. An entertainment district that houses clubs, a navigable canal, the OKC Thunder, and restaurants one of which is KD’s Southern Cuisine, a new American soul food restaurant owned by Mr. Durant. Bricktown was once a manufacturing hub, today the warehouses have been converted to spaces of leisure and beauty. What was once a major example of blight and hopelessness has become the major area of socialization in this community.
Bricktown exemplifies the new OKC, an OKC that includes KD and the Thunder. The land once inhabited by “boomers”, “sooners” and displaced Native Americans is now fully engaged in a 21st century rebirth, one envisioned in 1992 the city administrators devised a plan to reinvest in a city that had been decimated by the oil bust and flight to the suburbs. The apex of this can be seen in “Loud City” and it is led by Kevin Durant.
There is arguably no team more talented than the OKC Thunder and maybe no player more talented than KD. He has amazing gifts both on and off the court. He has galvanized the city as he leads their team (Seattle I know but not right now) on a championship run. A city where his Christian values are aligned with their own, where his supernatural basketball ability gives him a platform to lead and now his basketball team has answered the call and given him championship hopes. He has run out of reasons to leave. KD may long for home, but I hope he realizes he is already there!