It’s time for the remake. With reports that Russell Westbrook may not have any interest in steering the Oklahoma City Thunder on his own, some are suggesting that Thunder GM Sam Presti bite the proverbial bullet and trade Westbrook. Unfortunately, that’s a route that he might have to take. To allow another All-NBA scoring champ to walk away in free agency for nothing would be a colossal mistake. It would tie the hands of a small market team such as the Thunder in a way that would make the path to recovery almost impossible.
A trade to get viable pieces to help conduct a rebuild would be ideal. Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea. In addition maybe it’s best for Presti to explore an alternate universe where he drafts a cerebral, point guard with the ability to score and have an “understanding of angles”. Maybe Presti should trade an elite 3 point shooting, shot blocker and in turn snag Arvydas Sabonis‘ son. That would be something, right? Maybe he should trade this mercurial, lovable and abrasive point guard for a player that coming into the draft was labeled as, unfairly, Kevin Durant 2.0.
This Thunder team has given the fans and the community everything. The emotions tied to all the high and low points should never leave the fans. Those were real. And they were amazing. Even for fans not living in Oklahoma, having the chance to watch the way the team coalesce with the arena and created this symbiotic relationship will always be special to witness. The cult following that the fans created is like that of a classic film.
It wouldn’t be a bad thing to start shooting the remake to this movie. Obviously, having Cameron Payne starring as Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman and Ingram as Adam Sandler’s Paul Crewe. Remakes aren’t always successful. Additionally, trying to sell something of a lesser quality and pass it off as what it isn’t is a hard sell. Yet, buying into its legitimacy is just as hard. It is going to feel different and maybe not as connected to your soul as the original, but that’s the beauty of it. The fact is you’ll always have the sentimental nostalgia of what was. You will always have the moment you fell in love with it. That feeling will give you a warming sensation when you think back on it. That beaming pride that comes with saying “I was there when” will carry you.
If the new version has its growing pains think about the time PJ Carlesimo coached the team to 12 wins and 60 losses. The fans still showed up in Seattle and later Oklahoma City. There was always a sense of “if they can just put it all together”. Then it happened. As a result, the fans created hope.
Think about the time Scott brooks got the 22 year old Thunder past the Spurs after being down 0-2. And most notably getting them to NBA Finals. Those tears that Durant shed after the Game 5 loss weren’t just his tears, they were the tears of everyone who had accompanied him on that journey and were with him at that bitter conclusion.
And think about the time Billy Donovan used Andre Roberson in way that made it seem as if it was all uphill from here. There were prideful cheers rather than the moans and groans about his place on the team.
Think about those times and remember them if things change around the Thunder. The front office has prepared for this and therefore have a will have a plan of options going forward to fill the team out talent that can be had from a devastating yet necessary trade of Westbrook. The past nine years have been a prequel to the next film. Presti has been writing the plot and scouting for the talent all this time. This ending is no M. Night Shyamalan twist. This had been an expected event. It just wasn’t the one he wanted. It seems like there is a prevailing feeling that this all an alternating ending cut to a fantastic movie. No. This is how this one ends. And it’s perfect, because it gives way to a new possibility. Maybe the hero will show up and deliver what his predecessors couldn’t.
Change is a good thing. Just as Durant noted in his Players Tribune piece he wanted to evolve as a player. Maybe the team is now evolving as well. Thus lending itself to a world of possibility.
This change that I’m speaking of could turn out to be a moot point for Thunder fans if Russ indeed pledges his long-term allegiance to the organization. If not, don’t resist the remake just because of the novelty of the original. Consequently diminishing the mission of the first one; to make you feel something. To give you a piece of something bigger than you, while also allowing you to appreciate the things that the same model can create. Show up to games, keep Loud City alive. Now, more than ever, the fans of the original have to help bridge the gap between themselves and fans of the new.
Kevin wanted a new chapter.
The fans should want a whole a new movie.