Accepting the OKC Thunder and their (its?) fans

Despite the formality of tonight's final game of the regular season, we already know who the Los Angeles Lakers will play in the first round of the playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder.  From a basketball perspective, it's almost impossible not to like what you see from OKC.  They've got a roster full of young talent, including two of the most enjoyable to watch young players in the league in Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook.  Durant has used this season to launch his campaign to become a full fledged superstar.  They play with youthful exuberence and reckless abandon, and more than one national blogger has mentioned how enjoyable they are to watch for an independent observer.  Almost impossible not to like, unless of course you used to root for that same team three years ago when they played in Seattle...

Former Sonics fans are understandably angered by the events which led to professional basketball being played in OKC.  Seattle is a vibrant sports town, and the Sonics were steeped in basketball tradition and history.  An entire fanbase was forced to watch as their franchise was slowly stolen out from under their feet.  There's a long list of people/groups to be mad at for how the whole situation went down.  I've heard lists from our own members that include Howard Schultz (former Sonics owner), David Stern, Seattle government, and Clay Bennett.  You know who isn't included on that list?  The fans of OKC.

The Thunder fans don't deserve to be treated poorly.  They didn't do anything wrong.  All they do is support their professional basketball team.  Sure, they are excited about having a team, but I'd wager even they aren't thrilled with the circumstances by which the team was acquired.  If you were put in the same situation, 80% of you would react the same way that they have and cheer your hearts out.  1% of you might actually boycott the team based on principle.  Everyone else is lying to themselves.

I know we've got a few former Sonics in our crew, and we're happy to have you.  I understand that every mention of how the Thunder are set up for a decade of playoff contention with their young core is a painful reminder of how you were stabbed in the back.  I know that it's easy for the rest of us to take up the mantle of justice, and refer to the Thunder by monikers created by the ever-vigilante Bill Simmons.  But every time you talk about how you wish ill will on the franchise, that you want Durant and Westbrook to leave the team in free agency, every time you call the team the Zombie Sonics, the only people affected are their fans.  Clay Bennett isn't confronted with your anger.  Howard Schultz doesn't know the team's correct name in the first place.  Your displays of anger are understandable, but they aren't aimed towards the right place.

Along those lines, it shouldn't come as a surprise that such comments aren't cool here on SSR.  You already knew you couldn't call the Thunder by any other name, but just in case it was in any way unclear, they are the Thunder, and nothing else.  Also, please refrain from talking extensively about how you wish the Thunder would face a future resembling that of the Pharaoh dealing with the 10 plagues.  For many members of that fanbase, this is their first time experiencing the playoffs.  Despite our own team's struggles, the experience is likely to be short-lived.  Don't tarnish it for them.  SSR is officially inviting them to the playoff party.  Trash talk is welcomed, if not necessarily encouraged, but If you know you can't stop yourself from making a scene, kindly be on your best behavior, or we'll lock you in the basement until the guests leave.

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