The Great Unknown:Growing as a Fanbase

Let’s imagine a scenario. You go on a blind date with this girl (or guy, you make the scenario fit to your liking). When you finally meet her, you think, “Hey, she’s easy on the eyes.” The first date is exciting, but ultimately ends a little awkwardly. She has a youthful grace about her, but can be a little immature at times. Everything goes well enough, though, that you both agree to another date. You continue to date for that month, but you constantly think about what your ex is doing and how you guys had better chemistry. The dates are good; some end up great, some disappointing. But there’s enough of a spark to continue dating. 

The next month things get even better. You start to hang out more and there are less and less “weird” moments. She even reveals to you that she trained as a world class chef before taking on her current job. She invites you over for a couple dates at her house to try out her culinary skills, and needless to say, she has “skillz”. The girl can throw down in the kitchen, and you know the saying referencing a man’s heart and his stomach. All those thoughts about your ex start to fade away and become non-existent. 

In the 3rd month of dating, you feel like you are ready to make this an exclusive relationship. There are less dates and more time together. You start to synchronize your schedules to have more time together. You start to want to hang out with this girl. Then she gives you the surprise of your life and buys you a brand new sports car. You start to turn it down, but she insists that she has been saving up a lot of money and needs to spend it for “tax” purposes. The L-word even starts to get tossed around playfully.  

In the 4th month, you hit a little hiccup in the beginning of the month. You bicker back and forth about “young-relationship” things. You begin to wonder whether you are even going to continue the relationship. But alas, you work through it and hopefully come out stronger in the end. And, this is where you are currently at. 

For the past two months, she has surprised you with something big. You begin to wonder what she has in store for you this month. Then you realize how selfish that sounds. You have a great girl that has given of her heart in the short time you two have been together and now you are expecting something from her. You begin to see that you have been spoiled, and, just maybe, to the detriment of your ethics and expectations. You realize that you have devalued the past and the present with the expectations of the future. 

Now, before you become concerned and think that my sports blog has turned into a self help or relationship blog, please realize that I used this scenario as an analogy. Change the word girl to team (namely the Oklahoma City Thunder) and change the word month to season. There you have Oklahoma City’s relationship with the Thunder in our 4 short years together. And I mean it when I say that we have been completely and utterly spoiled.

 Oklahoma City’s situation has been so rare and unique that it is really difficult to find something comparable. First off, OKC had a tryout, of sorts, with the two seasons the Hornets played at the Ford Center after Hurricane Katrina. We proved that OKC was a viable market and took advantage of our surprising opportunity. This is back when we weren’t spoiled. This is back when we were a hungry market yearning for attention and respectability. 

After a year hiatus from the NBA, we took full advantage when the Thunder came rumbling to town, selling out our season tickets in record time, and showing up in droves to the games. Then we realized we had a crappy team. Young, but still crappy, nonetheless. We longed for the days of the ever-improving Hornets who were quickly becoming the darlings of the Western Conference. But we stuck with it and started seeing results in the 2nd half of the season. At this point, we were still building a relationship with our new team. 

That improvement from the 2nd half of the previous season continued into the 2nd season, where the Thunder finally took off and never looked back. They more than doubled their win total and made it into the playoffs, pushing the eventual champs to an unexpectedly tough 6 game series. We applauded our team and cheered them on, but always kept wondering when the other shoe was going to drop on our fairy tale story. At this point we were enjoying our successes, but wondering how fragile they are. 

During that summer between our 2nd and 3rd seasons, we were overjoyed to see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, two of our players, represent the country in their pre-Olympic tournament in which they were belittled by their own country’s media (“B-team”) and expected not to medal. Instead, led by the two Thunder players, the team took home the gold with nary a blemish on their record. We, as a fan base, puffed out our collective chests and walked around with pride in preparation for the next season. 

Heading into the 3rd season, expectations were high, not only locally, but also nationally. With a big move at the trading deadline, the Thunder did not disappoint making it all the way to the Western Conference finals losing to the eventual NBA champs. Fans were beginning to become accustomed to winning because it is all they had known with this franchise. 

Presently, the team sits tied for the best record in the league at the half-way point in a strike shortened season. We’ve seen Kevin Durant be named All Star game MVP, while Russell Westbrook performed exceedingly well in the same game. But what should be a feeling of joy and accomplishment is sometimes flipped into a feeling of anger and disgust whenever we do actually lose a game. It’s almost like we are expecting to win every game, while at the same time, expecting the clock to strike 12 and for this team to turn back into a big ugly pumpkin with some scurrying mice. 

Are we spoiled? Hell yeah we’re spoiled. Our track record has been nothing but an upward trend. In a league that is cyclical in terms of team success, we’ve been a straight line in the positive direction. But, can you be spoiled, and still be appreciative of what you are watching? That’s what worries me about this fan base. What’s going to happen to it when we hit our first big bump in the road? 

We’re an extremely young fan base that has grown with this team. You can say that we have experienced bumps in the road with the losses in the playoffs. But, expansion teams and rebuilding teams go through years of futility before they finally start to see the fruits of their labor. We haven’t had to go through the years of futility. We had one horrible year and the rest have been magical. My only fear is what happens when making it to the playoffs isn’t magical anymore. 

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be a Debbie-downer (or is it a Dreary-Dougie?). I love and respect our fan base to no end. Many media pundits have called us the best home crowd in the league. And I agree whole-heartedly, as I’m one of the crazies screaming my ass off in the middle of the 2nd quarter. But, in taking in the last 3 ½ seasons, I want something malleable that I can compare it to. They say that history repeats itself, but sometimes it’s scary when you are the one making the history. I don’t know how this story will end and that’s the exciting part about all of this. We are the archetypes when it comes to a franchise that had to move while rebuilding and experienced quick success as soon as it arrived at its new location. With that said, let’s continue on with our magical season. There is still much to be written in this story.

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About Alex Roig

Never been a writer. Probably will never be a writer. But always a fan.
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