Editor’s note: I went back over a year’s worth of BlogOKC posts and picked out the 10 that meant the most to me. I hope you take the opportunity to browse among these and find something that pique’s your interest. Enjoy!
The Opportunity Cost of a New OKC Thunder Arena
For all sorts of reasons — amenities, size, not built specifically for the NBA, perceived second-rateness — the city must build the Thunder a new arena within the next decade.
A new showcase arena will set us back at least a half billion dollars, if not much more.
Consider that American Airlines Arena in Dallas was built in 2001 at a cost of $420 million (and the Mavericks already are pushing for a new arena). How high will inflation drive the cost past that?
Holt’s job now becomes that of selling OKC residents on another special financing package, whether it’s part of a new MAPS deal or a special sales tax like that passed in 2008. I hope the city can negotiate a deal that requires the Thunder to share some of that cost.
Hot Wheels Fire Alarm in the Kitchen
As I screamed for help from my wife, our son, Sam the Chihuahua — anyone — I found the right button and shut the microwave down.
When the smoke cleared, I saw four Hotwheels cars inside the machine. Flames were still coming out of two of them.
Meanwhile, our 3-year-old grandson was in the living room screaming and crying.
it wasn’t a coincidence.
The Thunder Way Sets NBA Gold Standard
It’s obvious that Presti pours a huge amount energy in learning all he can about the players, their personalities and their families, in addition to assessing their level of talent.
I loved the way he described watching the players in various settings months or years before the moment their names were announced.
And how he uses locations of historical significance to introduce new players to the community.
All of that’s probably the reason broadcaster Dan Patrick described Presti last year as “the best GM the NBA has seen in a long, long time.”
The ‘first’ video game, Pong turns 50 this summer
If you remember Pong, you know it was a simple game that featured two paddles and a sort of ball-like squarish blip that made a cool sound when it connected with the paddle. You connected Pong to your television and used simple controls to move the paddles to return the “ball” to your competitor in a crude table tennis simulation.
That’s all Pong could do, but the world had really never seen a game like this that could be played on your TV. Pong even kept score for you at the top of the screen.
Turns out, Pong is hailed as the world’s first video game and it was released 50 years ago this summer. It was created by a young inventor and entrepreneur named Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari to market Pong and other games.
Dr. Charlie Marler & the divine coincidence
Turns out, Dr. Marler was traveling through the state that Sunday morning and randomly decided to attend the Quail service. Quail was a large church, but somehow he ended up sitting directly behind me.
I took it as divine coincidence.
I had only been attending at Quail for about a year and had begun dating the woman who would become my wife, Paula Bottom. She was sitting next to me at that service, so I introduced her to Dr. Marler.
“Oh, you need to stay away from this guy,” he said with a smile.
I was at Quail because of the influence of Dr. Charlie Marler. Not only did he help guide me and motivate me to stay the course to graduation at ACU, he also modeled a life of faith for me that led me to Quail Springs church decades later.
Oklahoma legends and a spelling disaster
My friend Steve Buck asked me to serve as a room monitor in Norman at the spring convention of the organization he leads.
As I was stationed outside the door to my assigned room before the workshop began, I turned and found myself face to face to Mike Turpen.
If you’ve lived in Oklahoma any time at all, you know Turpen is long-time co-host of the Flashpoint issue/debate show on KFOR in OKC. He is also a former Oklahoma Attorney General and chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.
“I’m the last Democrat in Oklahoma,” Turpen joked after we introduced ourselves.
A proposal: let’s destroy ‘The Process’ in the NBA
If you’re not a sports fan, you should know that tanking means a team is trying to maneuver for the best possible draft position. It does that by having as bad a record as possible at the end of the season.
Sometimes it’s called ‘The Process’ (wink, wink).
Teams tank not by asking their players to not play hard, but by manipulating the roster so their least experienced get most of the playing time. I offer the Oklahoma City Thunder’s mostly G-League lineup down the stretch this season as Exhibit A.
Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel put it best last fall when he wrote “losing is the path to winning.” The idea is that if a team is horrible for two, three, four seasons it will eventually be able to draft the next ‘unicorn’ that will turn it all around.
Meanwhile, local fans lose incentive to follow their team and actually show up at games. The thousands of unused seats on a nightly basis at Paycom Center this season is a prime example.
The newspaper visionary and the skeptical student
Our professor, Dr. Charlie Marler, speculated about the future of the newspaper industry. He said that some day we could get our news on a TV -like screen and have the choice to print out the stories that we wanted to read.
No one laughed out loud, but I had a good laugh to myself. Yeah, right, I thought. Not sure where Dr. Marler came up with this kooky idea.
At the time, the IBM Selectric typewriter was cutting edge technology for journalists. We were privileged to be able to type our stories on one in the late 1970s for The Optimist, ACU’s student newspaper.
Fast forward four decades. We can now see how dead-on Dr. Marler’s prediction was in the 1970s.
Fun at the ‘ol ballyard with game on the clock
I saw something Friday evening at an Oklahoma City Dodgers game at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark that I’ve never witnessed before: A 9-inning professional baseball game played in 2 hours and 14 minutes.
And it was a fun, action-filled game between the Dodgers and the Sugar Land Space Cowboys that was won by OKC 3-2.
Thanks to new rules that mandate no more than 14 seconds between pitches — 18 if runners are on base — the game moved incredibly fast.
There seemed to be no complaints by players or managers over the mandated fast pace. However, there appeared to be a Sugar Land player called out at one point because he wasn’t ready for the pitch in time.
I was able to witness the Dodgers game thanks for my friend Steve Buck and two of his children. Steve had an extra ticket and invited me at the last minute.
It’s not your 19th nervous breakdown
Every family — mine included — likely has first hand experience with some form of mental illness. I long ago decided that it’s my job to support my loved ones who suffer from mental illness, try to get them professional help and not make rash judgments or punish them for what’s out of their control.
I say all of that because today was the annual NAMI Walks Your Way event down at the Myriad Gardens. It went off without a hitch amid unseasonably cool weather but with no rain to hamper the program or the walkers.
The important thing about the NAMI Walks event is that it is designed not only to raise money to support the efforts of NAMI Oklahoma — the National Alliance on Mental Illness — but to help end the stigma of mental illness.