Originally Published: Apr 25, 2010 8:9 AM CDT
What an opportunity for the OKC Thunder. A win in tonights Game 4 would make this Western Conference first-round series be cut down to a best of three. I cant believe Im saying this, but if OKCfavored again but dropping from a 3 fave to a 1 favewins tonight, knowing they could have won one or both Game 1 and Game 2 in LA, Id say they have a legitimate chance to pull off a remarkable feat: bouncing back from a 2-0 series deficit to beat the World Champions in their place, would rank up there with the all-time greatest NBA playoff accomplishments.
The keys: 1. Energy from the crowd. Phil Jackson said it best when he quipped that once the benedictions over, the Amens too loud in this building2. Start better than the first three gamesslug em in the nose first and get that raucous crowd into the game from start to finish and not just from the end of the third on.3. Kobeespecially how effectively he delivers driving into the lane looking to score, get fouled or dish to one of the Twin Towers for gimmies.4. Get ample supporting points from any one or two of the group, including J Harden, T Sefalosha, N Kristic, and crowd fave S IBlocka Ibaka.5. Plug the inside as LA will look to exploit is major size advantage and get the ball out of Kobes hands and into those of P Gasol and A Bynum.Do this and OKC will win. It may be too big a chore as I give the Lakers a better chance of winning than OKC. History says the best teams lose the third games if they are up 2-0 but go on to win the series. But this young and skilled bunch of rolling Thunder doesnt seem concerned about history. If the feed off of what could be the most impactful group of loud fans they have a solid chance to get back to LA tied at two games apiece.
NFL DraftHas QB Jimmy Clausen been drafted yet? Speculation is that Mel Kipers agent also represents Clausen. If thats the case then its quite obvious why Kiper has steadfastly maintained Clausen is a better pro prospect than Sam Bradford. The Clausen better than Bradford logic is like saying Devin Ollie is better than Kevin Durant.
Mel, theres a reason your guy was picked in the 40-somethings. Aside from the football TV guys like Coach John Gruden most of the never-played-the-game-but-spew out the Clausenesque nonsense relies on sources like this mutual agent stuff. Interestingly, dont know if you noticed it or not, but Kiper also was very critical of OU DL Gerald McCoy and clearly against the Redskins taking OU OL Trent Williams with the No. 4 overall selection.
Let me ask you this. Do you think Mike Shanahan and his guys know a little more about player evaluation than the Kiper Snipers of the world? Why would we all listen follow intensely where the Kiper Snipers would juggle players week to week on their Big Board mock drafts? Ive had two OU All-Pro players tell me even worse. They both said that if Mel Kiper has you in the first round you gotta come out. Now thats really bad. Again, I like Mel. But talk about off-base.
The biggest memories of this draft will be: 1. Watching Sam Bradford stylishly become the No. 1 pick 2. OU having an unprecedented three of the first four players chosen, and the state having four of the first six with the addition of OSUs outstanding OL Russell Okung.3 Seeing Kiper look angry every time the camera went to the table of experts. Ill never forget that look. Being a huge believer in Bradford, and fervently believing Kipers heated assertions that his agents clientJames Clausenwas worthy of a No. 4 overall pick but still on the board seemingly forever, it was wonderful seeing Clausen have to wait. And wait. And wait. Until being called at No. 48. Mel, you and your agent were only off by 44 slots. Close but no cigars. No wonder the scowls. Locals who feel like me have told me they savored the moments when Mels Best Remaining Picks were left on the TV screen as pick by pick skipped over his agents client. Kipers fan base will not be Norman, OK. 4. Finally, my other memory is not a good one. It is seeing a Top 5 talent drop all the way to 24 because of questions of character. OSUs Dez Bryant needs to do what I think hell do. One, fly straight. Two, be so good that Tony Romo and Company make a run at the Super Bowl and the underachieving Longhorn WR Roy Williams sits on the bench seeing Dez excel.
Final thoughts: Come on Mel. You're better than that. Guess there's always 2011. You might want to avoid using your agent as a go-to source next time around.
And GO THUNDER!