by Aaron Tiger
I texted a Bay-area friend last week, “If Kevin Durant signs with the Warriors, then I will never talk with you again.” Yesterday, I texted him, “Congrats, I hate you.” He was kind, and I think eventually we will rekindle our friendship after my heart heals. Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma caused an avalanche of tweets, Facebook posts, text messages, and water cooler conversations, and I want to introduce to you to the six types of Thunder fans you’ll meet in Oklahoma, and how to talk to them.
The “KD Jersey Burning” Fan
These fans are just angry. This was the ultimate betrayal and they can’t handle the pain and the rejection. They say things like “KD is dead to me.” “I can’t watch basketball next season.” If you want to talk to them, don’t do it. They need space and time. Wait a couple weeks, and then try to have a conversation.
The “I’m Not Mad, Just Disappointed” Fan
A buddy texted me, “I’m just sad.” That is the emotion they are feeling. KD broke their hearts, and they don’t know what to do. Last week, they believed that KD was a different kind of superstar. The superstar who wouldn’t leave Oklahoma, and they thought he loved Oklahoma as much as they do. If you want to talk to them, talk to them like someone who just broke up with a longtime boyfriend or girlfriend. They need ice cream and a shoulder to cry on.
The “I’ve Always Liked Westbrook Better” Fan
These people have already moved on to a new hope in the form of Russell Westbrook. They think Russ will average a triple-double next season, and they swear that he will resign with the Thunder. Westbrook is the most competitive player in the NBA, and he will use this betrayal as even more motivation to lead the Thunder in the upcoming seasons. If you want to talk to them, do not mention that it could possibly be a good long-term move for the Thunder to trade him. They need hope, so talk about how good Westbrook, Oladipo, and Adams can be as a new big three.
The “In Presti, We Trusti” Fan
These hardcore fans believe in the General Manager Sam Presti to lead them into these uncertain days. They believe that Presti did everything he could to get KD to sway, has had an incredible track record in the draft, and has long planned for this contingency he hoped would never happen. They believe that Presti is better at being a GM than KD is at playing basketball. They need to read articles that talk about salary cap flexibility and assets. They need someone to talk about possible trades and the hope of people like Domantas Sabonis and Alex Abrines.
The “There is a Bigger Lesson Here” Fan
You saw the posts on Facebook. People saying things like “I choose to celebrate bigger signatures on this day” or “Well let’s look at this another way.” There are always the bigger lesson guys who come out (full disclosure: this is me) and want to frame this issue for the other groups. Maybe this is a lesson about teamwork or how to support the Thunder, or the importance of sports in the big picture. No matter what, these people probably drive the rest of you crazy. They need someone to affirm their “lesson” even if you don’t want to hear it. So like their Facebook status or tell them, “You know, you’re right,” even if you don’t agree with them.
The “Is it Football Season Yet” Fan
“That’s what you can expect from a Longhorn” is one comment I saw on Facebook last night. These people would rather call in to the Sports Animal and talk about OU’s third-string TE, than watch the NBA Finals. The only reason they like the Thunder is because it gives them something to cheer for between the Spring Game and the start of practice in August. They need someone to say “College sports are better,” and someone to talk about OU’s third-string TE with.
Aaron Tiger—in his limited free time—consumes information about sports. When he is not being a husband, dad, pastor, or editor-in-chief of the918.org, he is reading tweets or watching a game. He cheers for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco 49ers, and Oklahoma State Cowboys.