Esteemed fellow citizens of Thunder Nation:
We observe today not just past victories, but a celebration of the future--symbolizing an end as well as a beginning--signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a decade ago.
The "Peake" is very different now. For Thunder fans hold in their mortal hands the power to abolish all ill effects of a bad summer decision and all forms of league oppression. And yet, the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the NBA--the belief that the rights of a small market team come not from the generosity of the league but from their owner’s deep pockets.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first team. Let the word go forth from this time and place to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Thunder fans--born in this century, tempered by free agency, disciplined by a hard and bitter off-season, proud of our recent heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of respect to which this team earned, and to which we are committed today at home and on the road to continue.
Let every team know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any rookie’s learning curve, meet any opponent, support any teammate, and oppose any troll to assure the survival and the success of Thunder Nation and WTLC.
This much we pledge--and more.
To those young players whose future we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do--for we dare not meet a powerful league at odds and split asunder.
To those new players whom we may welcome to the ranks of the blue, we pledge our unconditional support that will replace any cynical version experienced in the past. We shall not always expect to find them superstars. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own team--and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought championships by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.
Finally, to those who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a guarantee: we will not be divided, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by free agency engulf the entire league in planned or accidental self-destruction.
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our resolve is sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never defeat us.
But neither can the fans of Thunder nation take comfort from our present course--overburdened by the lack of cap space, rightly alarmed by the loss of trade opportunities, both racing to alter an uncertain summer of free agency.
So let us begin anew--remembering that our support is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let Presti never negotiate out of fear. But let Presti never fear to negotiate.
Let us explore what players unite us instead of belaboring those which divide us.
Let us seek to invoke the wonders of advanced statistics instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the free throws, eradicate turnovers, tap the mid-range jump shot and encourage aggressive defense.
Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Michael Jordan--to "undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free."
And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the mental errors, let us join in creating a new endeavor, a new balance of power, and a new champion, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the "Peake" preserves.
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first season, nor in the first off-season. But let us begin.
In your hands, Thunder Nation, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this team arrived, each generation of Thunder fans has been summoned to give testimony to their loyalty. The cheers of all who answered the call to service surround the globe.
Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call for new players, though some players we need--not as a call to berate, though berated we are-- but a call to bear the burden of a rebuilding struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"--a struggle against the common enemies of Westbrook: Curry, Thompson, Green, and Durant himself.
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and arena-wide alliance, Loud City and Cox Club Section, Lower level and courtside, that can assure a louder venue against all opponents? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of basketball, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending true fandom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other fans or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our team and all who follow them--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, Thunder Nation: ask not what your Thunder can do for you--ask what YOU can do for your Thunder!
Finally, whether you are citizens of Thunder Nation or citizens of the NBA, ask of us at WTLC the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to cheer the team we love, asking for Magic’s blessing and Bird’s help but knowing that here in OKC, MJ's work must truly be our own.
Tonitrui sursum, Thunder UP! and here’s to a great run to the playoffs!