One of the worst days of my life involved Oklahoma City. I was driving across the country from San Francisco to Charlotte, and the leg from Amarillo, TX, to Memphis, TN, became a nightmare as a massive storm rolled through Oklahoma. I stopped at a McDonald's in OKC for an early lunch, and the city was already drenched, draped in dark clouds, with no prospect of weather clearing up anytime soon.
So, of course, I have this image of a hunkered down fortress of a town, no one on the sidewalks, dreary, on edge because of tornado warnings. Obviously, I have a skewed version of OKC.
When the Bobcats play the Thunder tonight, it will be in front of a crowd new to the NBA. There are people in Charlotte who remember when the Hornets were new, and the NBA brought major league status to the region.
The concept of the NBA isn't exactly simple to grasp. You've got your Artests, Arenases, and Birdmans on the periphery of the culture, Garnetts, Marburys, Morrisons, and Cap'n Jacksons a little further in, and then the masses of Josh Boones who are all their own men with bits of personality to discover.
And then there's Kevin Durant. Do you know what he's all about? I sure don't. In my imagination, he's an absence of outward personality with a fully formed dude within, just like fellow G-E-I-C-O competitor Joe Johnson. That the city's first major league sports star is a guy who isn't exactly high on the list of outgoing brand salesmen, whether that's selling the league or himself, might be considered a major problem, except that Durant's game is so gosh darn captivating.
Say what you will about his defense: the dude is a scoring machine. He might one day end up the Manny Ramirez of the NBA, in the sense that he plays a high offense position and struggles with defense, but he's still so incredible on offense that it overwhelms both reason and haterade.