The Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to play the Rudy Gobert-less Utah Jazz last Wednesday night. A recent 8-2 stretch had vaulted the Thunder into position to snag the 4 seed from the Jazz, however temporary that might have been.
Hopefully by now, you know the rest. Unless you’ve been on a 12-day meditation retreat in the desert, you know the NBA season has been suspended. Slowly but rapidly, most of America has been suspended as well thanks to a global pandemic.
Today marks one week since Dr. Donnie Strack sprinted onto the court and created a flashpoint moment in sports history. If you had told me it actually happened yesterday or a year ago, I’d probably believe it.
Those of us who cover the NBA miss it dearly. We’ve dealt with missing part of the season before. Two prior NBA lockouts robbed us of added contests that provided an extended offseason, even though we’d later moan that the season was too long. But to lose the sport this suddenly, even with the faint hope of reviving it months later?
It’s just sports and entertainment so I would not dare equate it to something meaningful like life and death. But it sure feels like the NBA had a terrible accident on the way to work one morning and is now in a coma.
Yet the sport will return one day, whether it’s to pick up the current season or to kick off the next one. In the meantime, I’m reminiscing about some of the things I didn’t realize I’d miss:
* Chris Paul’s triumphant return to Oklahoma City. In the aftermath of the Russell Westbrook trade, many Thunder fans swore they’d never support Paul wearing OKC orange and blue. That eventually changed, one mid-range clutch time jumper at a time. Hopefully fans haven’t seen the last of Paul in a Thunder jersey.
* Billy Donovan’s pregame press conferences. I really really miss them right now.
* A week ago, I had fielded my 864th question about Lu Dort’s playoff eligibility. I’d take 864 more of them a day if it meant settling the world down.
* Thunder players wearing those glorious City Edition jerseys in honor of the Oklahoma National Memorial. The Thunder only wore them four times this season, and had planned to wear them on six additional occasions. Here’s hoping they remain a permanent part of the jersey collection.
* Michael Cage’s church league talk. On that thought, is that shuttered as well? Maybe not. I doubt those guys played defense within 6 to 8 feet of each other.
* Commercials for Cher, Michael Bublé, and any other musical act comping to Chesapeake Energy Arena. These ran an average of 38 times per game per my unofficial and unscientific count. On the other hand, those concerts have been postponed so perhaps they will annoy us all again someday soon.
* Steven Adams’ unfiltered postgame thoughts. Thankfully Fox Sports Oklahoma doesn’t fall under FCC regulation or else that “Regional Sports Fee” on your cable bill might triple. Then again, $30 per month for unfiltered Steven Adams might be well worth it.
* Remember when fans used to get up in arms earlier in the season when Donovan didn’t challenge the calls they thought should be challenged? My Twitter mentions do.
* Remember when the Thunder couldn’t win on the road to start the season? OKC went 20-5 on the road after an 0-6 start to the season. That’s 20-5 since Thanksgiving 2019.
* Remember when the Thunder lost to the Bucks by 47 points? That was less than three weeks ago. There were roughly 80,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the world and an estimated 2,800 deaths. As of this writing, those numbers are now over 200,000 and 8,000 respectively.
* Billy Donovan’s postgame press conferences. They’d be very very welcome right now.
* Chesapeake Energy Arena blaring Billy Joe Armstrong’s rendition of “Oklahoma!”… yeah I’m really not missing that after all.
And so much more.
I’d like to reposition this COVID-19 virus into the sun.
I’d also like to replenish our lives with NBA basketball again.