Tyson Chandler Gives Sonic Fans Someone to Cheer For in the NBA Finals

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Since the Sonics were hijacked to Oklahoma City, it's become understandably en vogue for Seattle die-hards to root against their former team. But Thunder general manager Sam Presti, universally regarded as a wunderkind by colleagues and media alike, has made this task extremely difficult, swiftly demolishing and subsequently reconstructing a team that made it all the way to the conference semifinals this year. But take heart, Supe faithful: Presti's lone fuckup probably cost him a trip to the Finals, where Dallas and Miami are currently deadlocked at 2-2.

In 2009, Presti engineered a trade that would have landed the Thunder seven-foot center Tyson Chandler from New Orleans in exchange for former Sonic journeyman Chris Wilcox and various other flotsam to make the money match. I remember thinking at the time, "Shit, that's exactly what they need to contend for a title." But then, to everyone's surprise--especially Chandler's--Oklahoma City's doctor vetoed the trade based on the uncertain structural future of Chandler's big toe. Ironically, this was the same doctor who'd operated on that toe while in a previous capacity with the Hornets. Shortly thereafter, Wilcox was shipped to the Knicks for Malik Rose, who's now out of the league.

Chandler, meanwhile, was soon traded to Charlotte, then to Dallas, where he's currently starting at center and anchoring a Maverick defense that stands two wins away from a league title. In spite of the Thunder doctor's concerns, he played 74 games this past season--or 45 more than starting Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, a far greater injury risk who was somehow cleared for arrival from Boston in a deal similar to the one Presti had made for Chandler two years prior. Only to acquire Perkins (and then ink him to a dubious long-term extension), Presti had to give up a key player in starting forward Jeff Green, a reliable scoring option who took much-needed pressure off stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Dumping a mountain of salt in this transactional wound, Chandler absolutely dominated Perkins in their matchup in the Western Conference Finals, which Dallas took four games to one in a best-of-seven series. Had Chandler--and Green--been playing for Oklahoma City instead, it's no stretch to presume the Thunder would have rolled into the Finals, thus kicking Sonic fans further into the ground while they're down. But because Presti took his doctor's advice, the dawning of such a day has been delayed--for another year, anyway.

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