Family dynamics; the things that make families tick. The quirks that are only understood by you and those you consider family. The word family, though, can be used very loosely. Family doesn’t necessarily have to be just people related to you by blood. There can be a family dynamic with the people you work with. The fact is that most of us spend half of our waking moments with the people we work with, if not more. We usually share 1-2 meals a deal with these people we call co-workers. So, quirks definitely develop amongst those that we share an employer with.
On a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, you definitely see the quirks that work with this team. The core of this team (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, and coach Scott Brooks) has been together for close to 3 full seasons, which is an eternity, in NBA years, for 6 players and one coach to be on the same team for that length of time. Add to the mix Reggie Jackson and, even, Derek Fisher, who has been with the squad for the last two seasons, and you start to bring familiarity and comfort into the fold. On a team like this, teammates can cuss each other during the game, and then go out to dinner after the game with smiles on their faces. It’s the quirks that make it work.
It’s very similar to the characters on what has recently become my current guilty pleasure, Duck Dynasty. The basic premise is a reality show about a family that runs a business. But, the family dynamics are what make the show great. You have three sets of generations all working and interacting as a family, but also as coworkers. Add to that, outsiders (co-workers) that have been indoctrined into the family, and add to the hilarity of it all. In the end, you have a show where the goodness of family values meets the craziness of work site antics that makes it very difficult to turn away. A lot like watching the Oklahoma City Thunder play.
In an alternate universe, what would it be like if the Oklahoma City Thunder and Duck Dynasty merged together? This is what I happening:
Phil Robertson is Nick Collison – Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the entire family. He’s the one that started the company and made it famous with his Duck Commander videos. Now, mostly retired, he still helps out whenever necessary, but mostly expounds wisdom like an old sage to whoever will listen. Nick Collison is like the patriarch of the Thunder. He’s been on the team longer than any player currently on the roster, and carries years of experience with him. While still a serviceable bench player, he’s known to expound nuggets of wisdom to young players on the nuances of the game.
Willie Robertson is Kevin Durant – The main focus of the show is on Willie and his running of the business. He is the brains behind the operation and has used his business acumen to turn it into a multi-million dollar empire. But don’t ask him to get his hand dirty. He would much rather keep the white collar on, than do some manual labor. Much like Willie, KD is the main focus on the Thunder. His ascension into superstardom has coincided with the Thunder’s rise as an elite team. While Durant has no problem getting his hands a bit dirty, he’d much rather do his work calmly and efficiently than to leave a trail of mayhem.
Jase Robertson is Russell Westbrook – Jase is the main antagonist to Willie, with the word antagonist being used very loosely. While they are brother, Willie is Jase’s boss, and would like nothing more than if Jase would get to work. Jase, on the other hand, has what I would call a YOLO-type (you only live once) personality. If they is any type of mayhem to get into, Jase is usually the first one in line. If there were three words to describe Westbrook, YOLO, mayhem, and antagonist would be very apropos. Contrary to what most outsiders think, Westbrook is not Durant’s antagonist. But Westbrook does have a very antagonistic attitude towards the people reporting about him. His unbridled play on the court is equal parts masterpiece and mayhem. And if there is someone on the team unafraid of the moment, it’s Westbrook (and Durant, of course).
Jep Robertson is Kevin Martin – Jep is the youngest of the Robertson men and is the mama’s boy of the bunch. His beard has this weird shine to it that makes him look like a pretty boy compared to his brothers, father, and uncle. He has been kind of quiet for most of the time the show has been on the air, but has recently gotten more exposure in this current season. Martin is kind of the quiet, pretty boy of the team. He’s not known to get his hands dirty, and would rather do most of his damage from the outside. Also, his quiet demeanor makes him almost invisible on the court at times.
Martin and Godwin are Serge Ibaka and Hasheem Thabeet – Martin and Godwin are two of the employees that work for Duck Commander, but are not related to the Robertson family. They usually get involved in Jase’s antics and add to the mayhem of the moment. These two bigs boys have no problems getting their hands dirty for whatever is necessary. Ibaka and Thabeet are two of the big boys inside for the Thunder and have no problem getting into a little mayhem themselves, as evidenced by Ibaka’s recent karate chop of Blake Griffin’s baby making factory and Thabeet’s penchant for getting under the skin of opposing big men. Also, the African connection makes this duo very similar to the duo of fat guys who aren’t related to the Robertsons.
John Luke Robertson, Reed Robertson, and Cole Robertson are Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones III, and Jeremy Lamb – The younger generation of the Robertson family. They are shown the ropes by the older generation, and while going on their own paths, soak in most of the wisdom that the older generation tries to impart on them. Similarly, the young bucks for the Thunder are trying to carve their own niche on the team, while absorbing any nuggets of wisdom that they can get from the veterans.
Si Robertson is Kendrick Perkins – Was there any question about this one? Si is, literally, the crazy uncle of the bunch. He’s the old guy that works with the young guys, but fits in just fine because he’s crazier than all of them combined. Si vocabulary is a mixture of pop culture and country bumpkin. The court jester of the show, Si keeps the mood light, but will also get you if he has to. As I’ve written before, Perk is the crazy uncle of the Thunder. His Southern drawl makes his sayings, such as “Get in there gurl!” and “Ball don’t lie” that much more memorable. With his trademark scowl, Perkins is able to intimidate opponents, while making the scowl a loveable trait. While he keeps the mood light, he also expects his teammates to do their job and will grill them if they are lacking.
Mountain Man is Derek Fisher – Mountain Man is a neighbor that has known the Robertsons for years and occasionally makes appearances on the show. He’s great as a Mr. Fix-it and sometimes adds a nugget of wisdom here or there. Like Mountain Man, Derek Fisher has made occasional appearances for the Thunder the last two seasons as a late season addition to help bolster the bench for the playoff runs. Fisher adds experience to the bench and can still hit a big shot or two.
Miss Kay Robertson is Wanda Pratt – Miss Kay is the matriarch of the family. She brings the family together through food and is always there to lend an ear. Prior to this season, Wanda Pratt was the Thunder’s unofficial team mom, but has been mostly MIA this season. Hopefully she’ll return for the playoffs.
Side notes: I’ve been thinking about doing an article like this since last season, but it would have been too easy with James Harden and his Beard in the fold.
At the end of the each of the episodes, the Robertson clan gather together at the dinner table and break bread, as any good family should. Through the good and the bad, they still gather together and share that precious family time. Same thing with the Thunder. Though they may argue with each on the court and off, you can be sure that they will be there for each other and will be “riding together and dying together” come this playoff season. Thunder the Duck Up!