The new Thunder: OK to hate them?

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Ben Detrick of Grantland argues that after the James Harden trade, it is now ok to dislike and even sports-hate the Thunder.

We're embarking on our second week of the NBA's regular season, and to nobody's surprise, the two favorite topics du jour for people to discuss and write about are 1) the Lakers' slow start; and 2) the Thunder's struggles after trading away 6th Man of the Year James Harden. The latter has provided a steady helping of fodder from all corners, and Ben Detrick at Grantland gets into the act:

For about three seasons, the Thunder have been America's most beloved sports team. Rooting against them, which no one ever did, would have been the equivalent of kicking a dolphin. Seriously, what kind of horrible monster doesn't want to see gentle Kevin Durant smile?

And yet here we are. When the Thunder slumped off their hushed home floor with shoulders bowed, it was beautiful. And when Tony Parker left Westbrook confused in the wilderness and drained a game-winning jumper for the Spurs on opening night, it was sublime. What kind of foul necromancy could be afoot when joy is derived from witnessing the dreary, timeworn Spurs beat the precocious Thunder? It felt a bit like reading 1984 and cheering for Big Brother and the Ministry of Love.

But you're finally allowed to hate the Thunder. It's OK. After the franchise jettisoned Harden in a move that emphasized profits ahead of chemistry or winning or anything to do with basketball, we have been given the rare opportunity to reevaluate whether Oklahoma City deserves our allegiance. Let's call this the Harden Schism.

...

The Thunder must lose.

Here is my question - what exactly is this article supposed to be? For whom is it written?

  • Is it written for the opposing fan bases, like the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, or Lakers? I am pretty sure that those fans are quite happy about the trade. In fact, I know they are.
  • Is it written for the fans in Seattle? I am pretty sure they already hate the Thunder.
  • Is it written for the casual NBA fan who does not really have a team but simply follows the league? This to me seems silly because the idea that there is a group of fans that think to themselves, "I've been looking for a reason to cheer against this team," is ridiculous. Casual fans will root against one team and for another, but to think that they need a reason to change whom they cheer for on a night to night basis doesn't seem to sync up well with reality.
  • Is it written for Thunder fans? Now we are perhaps getting somewhere.

Is this not the crux of the article, really? That those who cheered for the Thunder in the past because of all the wonderful pieces, big and small, should not cheer for them anymore because of what they've done with Harden? To me, this is really the exact same argument that Sonics fans have been using ever since the team left Seattle. In other words, watching the Thunder now is kind of like...what was it? Ah yes, "a bit like reading 1984 and cheering for Big Brother and the Ministry of Love."

I think it is a fine straw man argument. What do you think?

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