Thunder Up!
June 12th, 2012

Do you know what tonight is?  Do you?  Tonight is the first game of the NBA Finals.  And guess what has two thumbs and actually cares?  This girl!  That’s right, boys and girls.  Gale, who has never cared a nit about professional basketball in her entire life has become an avid fan in the past three weeks.

Why this new and unbridled enthusiasm?  I’ll tell you.  One of the teams in the NBA Finals is the Oklahoma City Thunder.  That’s right.  One of the teams in the Finals is from my home state.  It’s a Christmas miracle!

This is a big deal to me because Oklahoma had never had a professional sports team until the Thunder (formerly the SuperSonics) up and relocated from Seattle four years ago.  (Because, really, when you pit those two cities against each other, OKC wins every time, right?)  And I’ll be perfectly honest and tell you that until the Thunder started plowing their way through the playoffs I still wasn’t paying much attention.  But in the past couple of weeks being from Oklahoma has been really fun.  We’re doing something well!  The nation is watching!  And my home state is making us all proud!

GAP says this now-that-they’re-in-the-Finals-I’ll-be-a-fan approach is what they call, um, er, “jumping on the bandwagon,” but I don’t care.  It’s not often that a girl gets to be proud of being from Oklahoma.  I have a lot of affection for my home state because it is my home state.  But in recent years it seems I’m usually making some sort of half-hearted apology for it, rather than walking around proclaiming my heritage.  (Incidents like this one and this one are to blame.)  These past few weeks, though?  I’ve claimed it with pride.  Along with all of my other fellow Okies, I’m ready to “Thunder Up!”

However, amidst planning Game 1 viewing parties and reading about how Kevin Durant made “the leap,” I’ve also given some thought to fair-weather fandom.  As many of you know, I’m a huge Cardinals baseball fan; a from birth Cardinals fan.  That’s usually pretty easy though.  The Cards are an amazing franchise with a storied history and some incredible seasons in recent years.  Being a Cards fan is a lot of fun.  (Moreso than, say, being a Cubs fan…)  But I know a lot of people who slog through one after another losing season because they are loyal to their team.  And I don’t knock that.  It’s hard core and it takes faith and humility in vast quantities.  But I am here to say that I think there’s no shame in jumping on the bandwagon of a winning team.

Sports, when you get down to their essence, are games.  ”I’ll bet I can throw more balls into this bushel basket than you can.”  We play them and watch them because they are fun.  Sure, in today’s world they are huge industries too.  But once upon a time they were all merely pastimes played for amusement.  Despite whatever extent to which our identities may be wrapped up in our teams, I think we should always be able to participate in sports – either as a player or a fan – just for fun.  And if that means riding the coattails of a winning team, then so be it.

Obviously, I hope the Thunder win the NBA title.  But more than anything, I hope I have a lot of fun watching the games.  I’m here for a good time.  No more.  No less.  So bring on the pizza and Cokes and cheers and jeers.  I have a team and I’m loving my view from the bandwagon.  Thunder up!!!

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