Let’s jump into the way back machine, shall we?
The date is March 12, 2005. Oklahoma State is in the middle of a gorgeous 78-75 Big 12 tournament semifinal win over Kansas. Wayne Simien drops 30 points on the Pokes but it’s not enough against Joey Graham’s strange 25-1-1 line and JamesOn’s 12-6-7 artistry 1.
The #1 recruiting class in the country was on ice and OSU was en route to its second straight Big 12 tournament title. It was either at or near the apex of a long string of tremendous moments during the Eddie Sutton era.
There was no foreshadowing, and I mean no foreshadowing of what was to come. No hint that less than 2,500 days later we’d be looking to this skinny freshman from California named Cezar, with more tats than assists, trying to save our flickering tournament hopes in Kansas City. Really a pathetic last gasp at something that never even existed.
And now we tie our basketball future to a moody five-star a few letters away from being named after the greatest player of his (and maybe any other) generation. We throw our hopes on a hybrid-guard who could generously be described as a destitute man’s Derrick Rose. And we pin our dreams on a coach who, year-over-year, has never improved his record at Oklahoma State.
I say all this to tell Thunder fans: enjoy this. I don’t think you have any clue what you (we) have with this team, with this once-in-a-lifetime six-foot-ten pogo stick of a superstar. He is the 21st century’s answer to the 20th century’s question: “what if George Gervin was taller, a better shooter, and wanted to rip your trachea out with deep, watery three balls?” 2
He is the most striking artist, the most talented creative, the ultimate sportsman and he was gift-wrapped to you, OKC, along with a complimentary Robin and the most interesting beard in the world. It’s almost like God said, “here is everything you could ever want in trio of stars, oh and I’ll bring one of the finer athletes from Africa I’ve ever created to help out too!” 3
But there we were, OSU fans, less than a decade ago saying the exact same thing. The twin monsters on the blocks, the engaging (yet undersized) machine down low, the point guard straight from “this is how you take a team deep in the tournament” school of fine arts, a freshman you could dream on. And now…now…we’d sacrifice Bullet’s offspring to just watch a point guard who can dribble the ball up the court, or a big man with more than .5 moves.
Yes, enjoy it OKC, for the team might last forever, but the party always ends.