Understandably, most basketball fans in Seattle hate the Oklahoma City Thunder, nee "the Seattle Supersonics." To a degree, I'm no different: If I saw Thunder


True NBA Fans Should Root for the Thunder to Beat the Heat, Even in Seattle

Understandably, most basketball fans in Seattle hate the Oklahoma City Thunder, nee "the Seattle Supersonics." To a degree, I'm no different: If I saw Thunder owner/Sonic hijacker Clayton Bennett approaching on foot, I would cold-cock him, consequences be damned. But now that Bennett's Thunder have reached the NBA Finals, I'll be rooting for them to beat the (Miami) Heat, and any serious basketball fan should feel obligated to do the same.

True sports fans can be discerned based on whether they're rabid about the sport they're following, or just a given team. Liberating the Thunder from their Seattle history for a moment, it's nearly impossible to deny that their success has been nobly and shrewdly achieved. The team's management tore down a ramshackle structure (including a pair of copper fixtures: Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis) and built a mansion in its wake, largely through the draft (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka) and modest acquisitions like Thabo Sefalosha, Nazr Mohammed, Daequean Cook and Derek Fisher (the lone misstep: nullifying a trade that would have netted Tyson Chandler, compounded by the signing of stiff Kendrick Perkins to a long-term extension that stands to price the team out of retaining either Harden or Ibaka after next year).

When Durant re-upped with the Thunder a couple years back, he revealed the information via a short, humble Tweet. When LeBron James defected to the Heat during the same summer, he did so on ESPN, and, in "taking [his] talents to South Beach," broke Cleveland's heart. James and his fellow "Big Three" members, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (who ditched Toronto for Miami, albeit without the made-for-TV moment), were introduced via an over-the-top fireworks show, and the trio soon predicted they'd win seven NBA titles together. So far, surrounded largely by a cast of misfit veterans like Mike Miller, they've won zero, and if they don't defeat the Thunder, rumors are rampant that one of the Big Three will get shipped elsewhere.

The Heat are the purest distillation of evil that professional sports, much less the NBA, has ever seen. If the luring of James and Bosh wasn't the result of outright collusion, then it was a thinly-veiled facsimile of it. The Heat are comprised of three exceptional players surrounded by jetsam, and James and Wade have similar skill-sets which often clash. They are not a true team, and they play in Miami, an obnoxiously hedonistic city built on laundered coke money and Kardashian rumps. Satan is rumored to be a season-ticket holder, and even he--like the bulk of the Heat's lethargic, superficial fan base--shows up well into the second quarter.

Save for their lack of a reliable low-post scorer (even great teams have a blind spot or two), the Thunder have been meticulously and honestly assembled. Their personnel fits together like Lincoln Logs, and their fans--much as it will pain Sonic faithful to read this--maintain a level of intensity rarely found outside Cameron Indoor Stadium.

While their means to landing in Oklahoma City will forever be a pockmark on the league, the Thunder represent everything that's right about the NBA. Unless you live in Miami--and even if you live in Seattle--to root against them in this particular Finals matchup betrays a lack of appreciation for the sport itself.

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