It seems like deja vu all over again for Oklahoma.
I’m talking about the similarities between Lincoln Riley’s unexpected departure from OU this week and that of Kevin Durant from the OKC Thunder in 2016. The feeling of being blindsided. The widespread anger. The loyal hero who steps up.
As I read Jenni Carlson’s column in The Oklahoman this morning on how Bob Stoops has further endeared himself to OU fans by stepping up in the wake of Lincoln Riley’s departure, another name instantly came to mind.
Russ stepped up big time in 2016 after Kevin Durant unexpectedly abandoned the OKC Thunder ship. He said “why not” and signed a 3-year contract extension before the season even began.
Here’s how he was quoted by espn.com:
“There’s nowhere else I would rather be than Oklahoma City,” Westbrook said at a news conference to announce the deal. “You guys have basically raised me. I’ve been here since I was 18, 19 years old. You guys did nothing but great things for me. Through the good and the bad, you guys supported me through it all, and I appreciate it. Definitely when I had the opportunity to be able to be loyal to you guys, that’s the No. 1 option. Loyalty is something that I stand by.”
It was an incredibly feel good moment after the anger generated across the state when KD announced on the Players Tribune on July 4 that he was taking his talents to the Left Coast. His announcement prompted me to write a blog post with some lyrics from The Beatles that were appropriate for the occasion.
Now we have Coach Stoops stepping up as interim coach at a critical time for Sooners. On Twitter, fans heaped praise on Stoops not only for stepping in but for the calming comments he made at the news conference announcing his temporary return.
And why not, to borrow Russ’s famous phrase.