Monday, April 18, 2011

One Good Dose Of Thunder

Normally, the Shooter Wife does not watch sports with me. She didn't grow up in a household with an awful lot of affiliation with it, so she didn't make those crucial connections early in life. She's not a gambler, a fantasy nerd, someone who goggles at athletes, or wildly into competition. In the evening, she's generally is looking for time on her own, rather than getting full immersion in entertainment. But tonight was different. Tonight, she gave Nuggets-Thunder a chance.

And well, there was no better gateway drug that I could think of; it's why I actually held to my guns and kept it on, rather than play something we'd both enjoy. (Later on, a Nova special on the human brain with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Just to show we're high-faluting.) If you aren't oddly fascinated by Chris Anderson, you might be blind. Kenyon Martin transmogrifying his infamous lips neck tattoo to something of a crown was noticed. Serge Ibaka's shot-blocking sucked her right in, and while she liked both teams, the Thunder's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were just more compelling to her. Oh, and James Harden's freaky beard. That's also a win.

Better yet, both the first and second half worked. In the first half, it was racehorse basketball with spectacular transition plays, both on offense and defense, and open threes coming out of the breaks to lead to a combined 119 points scored in 24 minutes. The second half, when both teams ratcheted up the defensive pressure and cut the points down to 91, was also riveting; I got to explain the Kendrick Perkins Experience, how a technical foul can get paid off later, and how the game is not fair. Specifically, the big swings around odd plays, like when JR Smith benefited from not getting back on defense to score a 3-point-play, or when Ibaka scored a huge late tip-in that was clear basket interference.

In addition, The Shooter Wife concurs that making everyone wear the same color shirt is just kinda creepy, that the Big Head NBA.com ad campaign is wrong on every level, and that Durant is just a monster. When I told her how young he was, and how much better he could still become, her mind boggled in just the same way that mine does. And when the Nuggets went into a Keystone Cops routine on their final chance to tie it, she got why people doubt Denver being able to succeed in a post-star era.

I don't really know if there's anything to this. The Shooter Wife is not, I suspect, going to become a real NBA fan, and if she doesn't watch another game this post-season, I won't be too surprised or offended; it's not her thing, after all. And she might have just been picking up on my enthusiasm for the game, and that's a pretty common reflex.

But if there was a single series, or game, that could open up that possibility? It's this one, and specifically, the Thunder. That's just how much fun they are to watch, and how compelling this matchup and talent is. If you haven't given it a chance yet, do -- even if you don't normally watch hoop, or pro hoop. It's worth it.

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