Harden’s MVP is Another Win for Seattle

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Try to imagine your favorite professional sports team uprooting the franchise for an entirely different State, City, and then for good measure changing the team colors and nickname that you rocked for years with a pride unlike any other.

Most of us can’t imagine that, right?

But we can sympathize for those who have gone through it, Seattle, is the first team that comes to mind. The city lost the Supersonics after the 2008 season when they booked a one-way ticket to Oklahoma City and changed their name to the Thunder. Despite not having a team to root for the last decade, Seattle, has had the one team who’s been the most fun to root against, if you’re a Seattleite.

The Thunder have made four Western Conference Finals appearances, one NBA Finals appearance, while drafting three NBA MVPs, and one of the three has two NBA Finals MVP awards on his resume. The Thunder are the first franchise in NBA History to draft future MVPs in three consecutive seasons. (Via @ESPNStatsInfo on Twitter). Now that sounds unbearable if you’re a Supersonics fan but Oklahoma City doesn’t have an NBA championship to show for which has allowed Seattle to bask in the glory of every mishap the Thunder have taken in the last ten years.

On Monday night, Seattle was basking again.

James Harden took home his first NBA MVP award at the NBA awards show on TNT, the former Oklahoma City Sixth man of the year, now, Houston Rockets guard who averaged 30.4 points per game and 8.8 assists per game. Oklahoma City traded Harden in 2012 after falling to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in five games. Just a few weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors won their second of back-to-back NBA championships with Kevin Durant taking home a consecutive Finals MVP award, the former NBA MVP of the Oklahoma City Thunder (2013-14 season). Durant left the Thunder in free agency in the summer of 2016 after falling to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in seven games, despite leading the series 3-1. This all happening one year after current Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook won his first NBA MVP award while averaging a triple-double for the (2016-2017) season.

The Seattle fans nightmare of an Oklahoma City Thunder Championship celebration came close to happening right in front of their eyes, instead, they’ve gotten to watch one of the great “What If” sports debates unfold with the rest of us. Except they’ve likely enjoyed it more than you, and I, and we can’t blame them for it. Oklahoma City is now stuck in the 90 percentile of the league on the outside looking in at a Warriors dynasty, waiting for its next turn at an NBA title run, a wait that might be long enough to see a return of the Seattle Supersonics, who don’t seem any farther away from a championship than the Thunder do these days.

 

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The Teammate Test: Westbrook Or Pedroia?

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A lot has been said about Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook’s press conference with teammate Steven Adams over this past weekend, of course, and you were defending one of three sides on Monday morning, Westbrook, Adams or the columnist. A lot was also made out of the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles scuffle from over the weekend, leaving us to decide whether or not veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia handled the situation correctly after his teammate Matt Barnes decided to throw at Manny Machado in retaliation. Two different sports, one common denominator, teammates.

Here’s how the two incidents played out.

Everyone should have an opinion on the topic, we’ve all had to work with others at one point or another, whether you’ve been the one defending a teammate/coworker/friend/sibling/etc., the one being defended, the one being thrown under the bus or the one doing the throwing. Let’s dissect each situation and then decide what type of teammate you are at the end.

Let’s start with Westbrook. The question asked by the columnist was directed at Steven Adams and was most definitely fair (Columnist: +1). Westbrook interrupted the question to defend Adams and the rest of his teammates (Westbrook: +10) ten points for following rule No.1 Sec. 6.09 of the teammate rulebook. Some say Westbrook never let his teammate talk and made sure they mentioned Adams by age (23) before saying he can speak for himself, that’s true, except that same 23-year-old Adams never chose to step up and do so at any point (Adams: -1). The columnist did stand up to Westbrook by responding that he asked Steven the question (Columnist: +1). Westbrook proceeded to hit the reporter with “next question” a few times which is the most elementary way out of a question for any athlete (Westbrook: -1). The columnist genuinely sounded mad towards the end of the clip and didn’t want to give up the microphone until Adams answered his question but Adams never did give in (Columnist: -5; Adams +1). The columnist should’ve been ecstatic about the answer Westbrook gave him, which would’ve been any other reporter’s dream, instead of becoming a part of the story for getting worked up about a quote from Adams that would’ve never seen the light of day. Ultimately, Adams stayed quiet at the right time, respecting Westbrook for having his back in the first place.

FINAL: Westbrook (+9), Adams (+1), columnist (-3)

The Pedroia saga started on Friday night after Machado’s late slide put him on the shelf for the time being. Pedroia never seemed to take exception to Machado’s slide after the game, mentioning that he’s not the “baseball police” and that he didn’t have an issue with anything (Pedroia: +8). The old school approach by Pedroia was well represented after he showed no regard for the fairly new rule on slides at second base. On Sunday, the pitch was thrown by Barnes (+10) in retaliation for the slide except it was near the head of Machado (-9). Barnes had the right idea in protecting his teammate but throwing above the shoulders should be off-limits. This is where the situation gets dicey. Pedroia never publicly acknowledged Barnes for trying to back him in the moment or afterward, even though it wasn’t done correctly by his standards, he’s seen in the clip telling Machado that it wasn’t him and goes out of his way to take the others team side immediately (-5). This is rule No.6 Sec. 0.9 in the DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE section of the teammate rulebook. We don’t know what went on behind closed doors but Pedroia was probably too vocal about his teammates not handling the situation the way he would’ve done it. By the way, who made Pedroia the chief of the baseball police? Barnes never touched on Pedroia’s comments (+2) and denied any notion that he purposely threw the pitch at Machado after the game(+1). The young pitcher kept the situation in-house and bought into the must lie situation about the intent of the pitch.

FINAL: Barnes (+4), Pedroia (+3)

Now, it’s time to pick your poison. What type of teammate are you?

Clearly from the point system used above I see myself as a ton Westbrook, of course, speaking in terms of a teammate and not at all in terms of athleticism, and I’d say I’m more Barnes than Pedroia because I’d never support an opponent over my own.