Before I begin, I apologize for the lack of pictures. I took none from the practice, and there are none in the media. I could put in some stock photos, but nobody wants to see those again.
So, tonight I got a small insight into how the Oklahoma City Thunder practices go. It was my opportunity to be Darnell Mayberry! I got there at about 6:15, and they were running drills. I got my pizza and Mountain Dew, and watched. There were several mini-hoops and face paint set up outside the Ford Center, and it was all free. Admission was free too, but since I got there late I had to stay behind the green railing. Eventually I was let down into the first row, but not onto the floor.
Then, all of a sudden, Mike Baldwin stands right in front of me and talks to some random people in a business type fashion. I wait for a while, but he doesn't move, so I have to move a few seats over in order to see. How inconsiderate!
Anyway, there wasn't much to be gotten out of the drills. Everybody basically did the same thing, and nobody really distinguished themselves. All the while you got to hear P.J. say things like "good hustle, Weeze!" over the loudspeaker. There was a short break between the drills and the scrimmage for water. It was pretty cool to see Chris Wilcox trying to steal some kids french fries and see Nick Collison giving all of the kids free Gatorade. Then, scrimmage started. I cheered for white, because they had Wilkins, Weezy, Petro, and Mason, but they lost both games.
There really wasn't anything substantial to take from it. The assistant coaches were miced up while P.J. Carlesimo max relaxed at mid court. The players obviously weren't trying their hardest, and several (like Joe Smith) didn't even play in the scrimmage. Durant showed up everybody, and Weezy had a nice dunk once. There were a lot of missed layups, and Russell Westbrook seemed to kind of hog the ball. Desmond Masons jumper looked like it needed work. But again, this is just practice. All will be revealed when the season actually opens.
The highlight (or lowlight) of the practice was a Derrick Byars injury. He drove to the lane hard, collided with a big man, and fell to the floor. He looked like he was in extreme pain. Everybody just kind of left him there except the trainers and Joe Smith. Eventually, a few more players came over. But, instead of seeing if he was okay, they started shooting hoops! Right in front of an injured player! They could have hit him in the head! I thought that was totally lowballin'. Then, to top it all off, I look up at the big screen, and it's showing me looking at the injury, as if they were expecting me to do some sort of dance or something. When that guy was injured, no less! Pretty surreal moment there.
After the scrimmage, Desmond Mason, Damien Wilkins, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant all paired with kids from local schools (who took up about 50-60% of the crowd, by the way) for a shooting contest.The kids were all somewhat good at basketball. Desmond Mason clanked an incredible number of shots, and his team ended up with 3 points. Damien Wilkins did fairly well, and they scored 17. Westbrooks team captured 21 (mostly due to his 3 pointers, worth 8) and Durants team scored 50, because Durant hit it from all over, and the kid hit the short shots. They then had a final round between Durant and Westbrook, and Westbrook won by a score of 40-30 (or something close to that) because he kept making 8 point 3s, which was a ridiculous way of scoring. Derrick Byars came back, but he had ice taped to his chest. He seemed fine, though. Then, P.J. gave a final word, and it was over. Some of the players spent some time meeting with the kids afterwards. And that was that.
Quick Blogroll Update:
This seems like a fan-made version of Thunder Madness. It's ad-ridden and just starting out, but you've gotta support anything that is an alternative to something run by Wimgo. As The Lost Ogle guys would say, "WTF is Wimgo?" Still, if you're into that sort of thing, check these guys out.
Or next games are Thursday versus the Suns, and Friday versus the Lakers.