Five More Wins Before We Celebrate
7:00 AM EDT on June 6, 2012
There is a code in the dugout that can be summarized like this, "Never summon the Jinx." It is the reason that you see pitchers tossing no hitters sitting in solitude on the bench while the rest of the team crowds like sardines on the opposite end. Inversely, it is why teams that are losing turn their hats inside out and act like goofballs while trying to rally back. Luck is a fickle mistress, and it is a mistake to tempt the bad incarnation or alienate the good.
Since the age of five, I have been a baseball player and the Jinx has become as real to me as Mike Morgan's weather tie. That is why it drives me insane to listen to the Thunder Nation ignorantly risk the wonderful run the team is on by sounding the Jinx's siren song.
Game five of the Western Conference Finals was epic, there is no doubt. However, as I listen to fans talk (or tweet) in the wake of the outcome, there is far too much overconfidence. Truthfully, it started before the game was even close to decided. After James Harden cashed in a four point play with 5:17 remaining, national media and Thunder fans alike started writing the Spurs eulogy.
This drove me insane. In addition to being a baseball player, I am an OSU fan, and I had not seen this much premature jubilation since Cowboy football team rolled into Ames, Iowa. Three hours later, the same fans making travel plans to the Mythical National Championship game were in tears. Monday night very nearly ended that way for the Thunder.
For nearly four minutes after Harden's free throw swished to give Oklahoma City a 13 point (a different bad omen I'll save on pondering for another time), the Thunder did not score. Meanwhile, the Spurs cut into the lead until only two points seperated the teams. Had it not been for another miracle, desperation three pointer by Harden to give the team some breathing room with 28 seconds to go, the Spurs were poised to take possession with the home court and all the momentum in a single possession game.
Fans learned nothing from this. Twitter Tuesday was abound with speculation about who OKC will take on in the Finals, and in some cases, plans for where the Larry O'Brien trophy will be displayed. That is explicitly tempting the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing.
Was it a great win? Absolutely. Was it a changing of the guard? Only time will tell. In the meantime, the Thunder still have a huge game tonight. While it is at home against a team that is old, potentially tired, and reeling, nothing is promised. Where the Spurs might look washed up in their past three losses, only a week ago they looked like unstoppable wily veterans. It only takes a single re-ignition, or off night from OKC, to sway the odds back in their favor.
My advice is to wait to celebrate until there is something to celebrate. Even if one does not believe in the Jinx, the fall is hard when that excitement turns out to be premature. For those like minded people out there, well, as Gary England would say, you were already taking your perCAUtions.