The Oklahoman redeems itself with some terrific headlines

Founded in 1889, The Oklahoman is the largest daily newspaper in Oklahoma. But it took a lot of heat for its headline after Game 5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round Western Conference playoff series against Memphis when it came with this headline: “Mr. Unreliable.” It was in reference to Kevin Durant, who, of course, was named league MVP on Tuesday. In a 100-99 Game 5 loss to Memphis that gave the Grizzlies a 3-2 series lead, Durant scored 26 points, but shot just 10 of 24 from the field. An 88.2-percent career free-throw shooter, he made just 3 of 6 from the line.

The newspaper apologized for the headline, and it has redeemed itself the past two days with some real catchy ones. After Chris Paul made 8 of 9 3-pointers in the Clippers’ 122-105 Game 1 rout of OKC at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Monday in the Western Conference semifinals, the headline in the next day’s paper – “CPTHREE’D” – was awesome.

Then in Wednesday’s editions, the day after Durant gave a very warm speech thanking the organization, his teammates, coaches and especially his loved ones upon accepting his MVP award, the headline – “All in the family,” also was outstanding.



Kevin Durant’s MVP speech one to remember; will it motivate the Thunder?

Kevin Durant on Tuesday received the MVP award for his terrific play during the regular NBA season. He gave a speech that will never be forgotten here in Oklahoma City, where Wednesday night Durant’s Thunder will host the Clippers in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals series.

Durant talked about all of his teammates. One by one, he let them and the rest of the world know how he feels about them. He was as classy as classy can be.

He shared the love he has for his family. When he got to his mother, Wanda, he told her that she was “the real MVP” because of all she had done for him and his brother during some real rough times growing up, when she would go to bed hungry so her two sons wouldn’t have to.

During much of this heartfelt expression, Durant was moved to tears. In a day and age when such demonstrations are looked upon as maudlin because much of society has become hard and would rather hate than love, it was an absolute breath of fresh air.

Kudos to Durant.

By the time his address was over, one had to figure that Durant had pumped some adrenaline into his teammates, even if that wasn’t what he set out to do. It will be interesting to see if it will play a role in Wednesday’s game. The Thunder were routed by the Clippers in Game 1 Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. A loss in Game 2 would be devastating to OKC.

Doc Rivers concerned about Mark Jackson’s firing, vulnerability of NBA coaches

When coach Doc Rivers met with reporters about 1:15 Pacific time on Tuesday in Oklahoma City, he had yet to hear that Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson had been fired.

The Warriors took the Clippers to seven games in their recently concluded first-round Western Conference playoff series. It marked the first time the Warriors had made the post-season in consecutive seasons since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 campaigns. Rivers was stunned.

“That means things are crazy,” Rivers said. “George Karl was the Coach of the Year last year and got fired. Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years, and gets fired. It’s our job. We have a tough job and I think everyone knows it now more than ever.”

Rivers was asked if something has changed over the years regarding coaches and their vulnerability.

“Yeah, clearly, but I don’t know what IT is,” he said. “But something has absolutely changed. And I don’t know what it is, but clearly the patience has changed. But I don’t know why that would be impatience because they’ve done pretty well for the last couple of years. So, I don’t know, but there definitely is a change in thinking about us, and it’s hurting us.”

Lakers great Magic Johnson talks briefly on sale of Clippers and Donald Sterling

On Monday evening, Lakers great Magic Johnson spoke to students at Long Beach State University at a closed to the public event. Students were allowed to ask Johnson questions during the Q/A portion and the question on everyone’s mind was finally asked: Is Magic interested in buying the Clippers?

“I don’t know what me and my group are going to do,” said Johnson when asked about his interest in the Clippers. “But I will say this, 20 people have already called me interested in partnering up with me, so money will not be an option”

When the initial question was asked, many cheered, but there were some boos (presumably from Lakers fans). But Johnson also admitted that if he actually did try to purchase the Clippers that it would be a “battle for him personally,” due to his allegiance to the Lakers franchise.

“I really truly love the Lakers,” said Johnson. “I am a Laker. So that will be interesting.”

Johnson has been rumored to be eyeing the Clippers, hoping to be add to his Southern California empire that includes the Dodgers and the L.A. Sparks in the wake of Sterling’s ban from the NBA for his racist comments, which mentioned Johnson.

“It’s a sad day. Racism. Discrimination. It’s why do we still have to go through that, here we are in 2014,” said Johnson. “While I was upset, I feel sorry for him, living in the past. It’s just uncalled for.”

The Lakers great reminded the audience that the Clippers are not actually for sale as of yet, with the NBA owners still needing to vote Sterling out. Johnson figured that sale would not happen for another eight months to a year.

“There is no way that man walks away without a battle,” said Johnson.

The Clippers question was also brought up earlier in the talk, when a student asked Johnson what did he want to accomplish in his life that he had not already. When Johnson paused, a student yelled out “buy the Clippers,” at which point Johnson and the room burst into laughter.

“Buying the Clippers,” said Johnson jokingly. “That would be it.”

Jamal Crawford says team will try to be even better in Game 2 at OKC

The Clippers had just run the Oklahoma City Thunder off their own court Monday, routing the hosts 122-105 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series. The Clippers led by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter.

The win allowed the third-seeded Clippers to take away homecourt advantage away from the No. 2-seeded Thunder. Jamal Crawford, who scored 17 points off the bench for the Clippers, afterward intimated the team is not content with that.

“I think it just sets the tone for the series,” said Crawford, who shot 6 of 11 from the field, 3 of 6 from 3-point range. “Obviously, like I said, people want to split the road trip, but we can’t be satisfied with that. We feel like if we’re out there, it’s a competition. We’ll try and get better the next time.”

Game 2 is Wednesday at the same place.

Clippers fans, book your flights to Oklahoma; Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph suspended

Assuming the Clippers advance to the next round of the Western Conference playoffs with a Game 7 victory over the Warriors on Saturday, fans of the team should book their flights to Oklahoma.

Why? Because the Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph has been suspended for Game 7 of his team’s series with Oklahoma City for punching Thunder center Steven Adams in the jaw in Game 6, the NBA announced Friday afternoon.

Since Game 7 of that series is at OKC, it’s hard to imagine Memphis prevailing without Randolph, who averaged 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds in the six games in which he played in the series.