POSTED ON JANUARY 26, 2011:
A Minor Observation
Ditch the myths and embrace the 66ers
Layup. Riding a 12-game streak, Tulsa’s 66ers top the development league’s West Conference for the first time in the franchise’s history.
FILE PHOTO/GAVIN ELLIOTT
Professional basketball gets a bad rap. Too many potential fans listen to outdated takes. Here are a few I am sure you have heard and likely repeated to a friend during coffee pot talk.
Let's kill these myths.
"NBA teams only play hard in the last five minutes of the game."
Bad teams appear to play hard for only five minutes a game because they are conditioned to losing. Go watch the Oklahoma City Thunder one night. Most of their games air on Fox Sports Oklahoma and are exciting for the entire 48 minutes.
"They are overpaid egotistical athletes."
Overpaid? By what standards? If a player's paycheck decides your viewing preference, then maybe this explains the freefall baseball is currently experiencing.
"The gangster image is terrible for today's youth."
The gangster image is what out-of-touch white people say to disparage a predominately black sport. It is simply not true in 2011. The talent infusion over the past few years has been a revelation. In fact, more on this item in a bit but we need to start our b-ball talk in T-Town.
We're a relatively proud city. When our zoo earned top honors several years ago, we applauded. If a major PGA tournament returns to Southern Hills, we will celebrate and pack the galleries. We like winners. We need the best.
All of this to say, our Tulsa 66ers (20-6) is wreaking carnage on the courts.
For the first time in franchise history, they stand alone atop the West Conference of the developmental league. They are on a 12-game win streak as of this writing.
One of the players is a Thunder designee. Center Cole Aldrich is earning valuable game time in our backyard. Our energizer bunny and former ORU Golden Eagle fan favorite Larry Owens was recently signed off the squad by the San Antonio Spurs.
The league has quality players abound. A double-digit win streak does not happen by taking three quarters off each night. Head Coach Nate Tibbetts continues to press the right buttons for this year's squad.
Think about how difficult his job must be. Every player strives for the ultimate: an NBA call-up. Imagine tempering a "my stats first" attitude into a consciousness of team winning.
The Larry Owens outline will be the go-to account for years to come. His stats were down this season, but his production was recognized by the NBA's best franchise. The 66ers shoot and score.
Visit tulsa66ers.com for upcoming home schedule. And just a friendly reminder: the team plays their games at the Tulsa Convention Center downtown.
The University of Oklahoma men's basketball coach Jeff Capel received a seven-year contract extension following the 2008-09 season. Coincidentally, Blake Griffin averaged 22.7 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.8 rim-rattling dunks during that campaign.
He was a phenom in college and his skill set has transitioned to the NBA seamlessly. In hindsight, should Capel have received the extension? Or should he have been fired for not reaching the Final Four with the nation's top player? Very Dale Brown of Capel.
Griffin locked up the current season's rookie of the year honor a month ago. No one is on his level. He should also be a member of the Western All-Stars, maybe even a starter.
For the first time in decades, the Slam Dunk Contest is significant. Griffin entered the high-flying contest and basketball fans are on tilt waiting to see his fury unleashed. It is once again must see TV.
Now here is where Blake's stardom is blurred. We watched him at OU. We saw this coming. I remember writing about his chances to be an all-time great years ago following a gritty performance on the road against Iowa State.
We are biased. We enjoy his nightly performance because we feel like we've grown with him to an extent.
But what about the rest of the country? ESPN's mouthy morning talking head Skip Bayless broached an interesting topic. Then again, Bayless is a caricature of his former self.
Is Griffin's star power boosted by his mass appeal? By mass appeal I'm referring to whites and blacks being able to call him one of their own?
Does his father being black and mother being white inadvertently bless him with a leg up on competition? It is like the Lakers and Celtics of the 80s combined into one?
I declare shenanigans. As much as Blake Griffin has changed the NBA, Kevin Durant impacted the league in the same way. When Kevin Love dropped a 30/30, did he receive extra accolades for being white? Nope.
While race in the NBA will always be a subtopic, it seems to have fizzled except in older generations. The same fans who discredit mixed martial arts as barbaric are likely the same ones who think the league is too black.
Blake is on the verge of doing the unthinkable. Soon the Clippers will be playoff regulars and earning primetime television slots.
The real question is what happens when his rookie contract expires? Does he resign with the worst franchise and owner in all of professional sports?
Or it is possible he returns "home?" Imagine Russell Westbrook barreling down the court with Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin flanking him.
Maybe we'll get a taste in this year's All Star game.
I have a dream.
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