The 2020-21 Oklahoma City roster proves a point that I’ve heard many times over the years.
We’re only cheering for laundry.
Like many Oklahomans, I’ve been a Thunder fan since the team relocated here in 2008. I’ve been to many games over the years.
Along the way, I adopted many Thunder players as my own. Russell Westbrook. Nick Collison. Serge Ibaka. Steven Adams. Andre Roberson. Jerami Grant. Enes Kanter. James Harden. Even Kevin Durant. Especially KD.
The list goes on.
For several years, we had a core of players that we knew and could count on leading the Thunder lineup every season. We got to the NBA Finals with that lineup one year and should have made it to another if Patrick Beverly had not assaulted Westbrook.
But that’s another story. My point is that I became comfortable with our players and our team, although the roster was slowly turning over as we lost Harden, Ibaka, Kanter, et al over time.
Then KD left abruptly. But Russell stayed, and while we added and subtracted new players, our core stayed relatively stable.
Then 2019-2020 happened and the Thunder as I’ve known them disappeared. Westbrook long gone. Grant gone. Adams gone. Dennis Schroder gone. Chris Paul came and went from OKC a second time.
By the time the 2020-21 season started, we had four — four! — players from our previous roster, none of them long-time beloved stars.
So, I’m still watching the Thunder nightly, but with much less passion. I know Sam Presti’s plan is to lose now to chase potential later. But I don’t have to like it.
A friend I’ll call “Steve” accused me of being a fan of mediocrity.
“Winning by losing,” he said. “What a great concept.”
But we weren’t mediocre. The Thunder that I knew were great and went where small market teams almost never go, to the NBA Finals. And with players we knew and loved.
Now, we’ve turned the roster over and acquired dozens of first round draft choices, because the grass is always greener in the future.
I’m not sure if mass roster changes will ever end as Presti chases the elusive future player who will bring us championship glory.
It’s a bittersweet relationship, but now I know. We’re only cheering for laundry.