By all accounts, Thunder TV announcer Brian Davis is a capital fellow.
Can’t speak for everyone, but the guy was always extremely pleasant to me. Went out of his way to say hi to me. Always called me by name. I appreciate that. Someone who takes the time to not just know your name, but call you by it, shows a level of care.
Friday, the Thunder announced Davis would not be returning for the 2018-19 season, saying his contract would not be renewed. Odd.
Davis was kinda cheesy, had a few go-to expressions that were sorta silly, and the guy was a homer of epic proportions. But who cares, really? I mean, you know what you get when Davis was doing a game. It’s fine. It wasn’t for me, but I see where fans would be drawn to a foam-finger waving style. Makes a lot of sense, actually.
But for as much as the Davis backed the Thunder, rarely questioning a decision on the court, supporting the team at all turns, while being the perfect gentleman, apparently the feeling wasn’t mutual.
Davis was suspended for the first game of the playoffs for making what appeared to be an honest mistake, when he said, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was out of his “cotton-picking mind.” The expression isn’t offensive to me, but it really isn’t up to me to decide if Westbrook was offended. It’s understandable how some could be upset about what Davis said, though.
Westbrook’s response was this:
“Obviously Brian’s been here for a while and I know him personally. What he said wasn’t ok but he definitely came in and talked to us. The team made a decision to do what needed to be done and we have to move on from it.”
Not exactly an endorsement from Westbrook and the Thunder didn’t exactly back Davis either.
Now, firing Davis for the comment, at the time of the comment, would have created a huge distraction for the team. It was the beginning of the playoffs. But firing him now, with the team giving no reason why? That smells of foul play.
“The Thunder has made a decision to go in a different direction,” the team said in a statement Friday. “We greatly appreciate Brian’s contributions to the Thunder organization over the past 10 years and we wish him well in the future. In conjunction with Fox Sports Oklahoma, the Thunder will now begin the search for a new play-by-play announcer.”
This is a crucial offseason for the Thunder. Only Westbrook remains a sure-thing to return to the team and the future of Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and the future success of OKC is a mystery.
It’s conceivable Westbrook was truly upset by Davis and wanted him fired. It’s also conceivable in this Thunder climate, general manager Sam Presti and the ownership don’t want to do anything to upset Westbrook. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t seen a thing on why Davis was fired and saw nothing from management backing Davis and his statement, which might have been offensive, but certainly wasn’t meant to be.
If the “crime” was truly worthy of firing, Davis should have been let go immediately. He wasn’t – for whatever reason.
Westbrook owns this team now. What he says goes. The Thunder made the trade for Paul George, brought in Carmelo and reshaped the team last offseason to help entice Westbrook to stick around. It worked.
My guess is, Westbrook was upset by what Davis said, and it’s also my guess the Thunder told Westbrook they would do something about it. What we’re left with is Westbrook’s comments and the Thunder’s lack of comments.
Is it possible, there’s some other reason the Thunder decided not to renew the contract of Davis? Sure. I guess. Is it also possible the team is doing anything and everything to appease Westbrook? Sure is.