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Two Strong Words for Every Former Thunder Player…

6:54 AM EDT on March 16, 2022

It has been just over two years since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 in OKC just moments before tipping-off against your Oklahoma City Thunder.

Later that evening, the NBA indefinitely suspended the season, a move that cost the league millions of dollars and saved me a couple hundred in Downtown parking fees. It took four months for the league to establish a COVID-free bubble at Walt Disney World, where the weird remainder of the season and the finals took place.

At some point during that artificial weirdness, I quit following NBA basketball, and it must have been during that time that Sam Presti sent everyone in the organization packing. I never considered myself to be a fair-weather sports fan, but the Thunder are currently next to last in the Western Conference with a roster full of people I've never heard of. Loud City is not as loud as it used to be.

These days they rarely talk about the Thunder on ESPN, but you know who they do talk about? Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook. James Harden. Enes Kanter. And based on what I've heard, none of those guys are as happy as they were when they lived and played right here in OKC. With only what's best for them in mind, I have a simple request for every single former member of the Oklahoma City Thunder:

Come home.

Earlier this week in a game against the New York Knicks, Russell Westbrook scored a measly five points. To paraphrase my dad, that's only five more points than I scored, and I don't play basketball. Journalists have begun referring to the all-time king of triple-doubles as "Westbrick," there's talk of removing him from the starting lineup, and even the home crowds in L.A. are actively booing him. You know who didn't boo him? Oklahoma City. When the Thunder returned to Oklahoma after losing the finals, fans lined up along the chain-link fence surrounding the airport in the middle of the night and cheered.

James Harden was the ultimate bench player for the Thunder, winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award in 2011. Oklahoma City offered Harden a four-year/$55 million contract, which he declined down and ended up in Houston playing for the Rockets. In Houston, Harden got the fame he wanted and proved he was a great point guard, but couldn't win a championship. In 2021 Harden left the Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets. He didn't win a ring there either. Last month Harden moved to the Philadelphia 76ers. He probably won't win a championship there, either. He's won as many championships in Oklahoma as he has anywhere else. He won't be any worse off if he comes back. We'll even make him a starter. I still have the foam beard I paid $15 for shoved under my bed, waiting for his return.

Do you know who Enes Freedom (formerly Kanter) currently plays for? Nobody. Last month Freedom was traded from the Celtics to the Rockets, who immediately waived him. Playing for the Thunder wouldn't be a step down. Even if Houston had picked up his contract, the Rockets are the only team in the Western Conference with a worse record than the Thunder. Freedom has spoken out against multiple foreign governments including Turkey and China, which has led to threats against his life. When he was in Oklahoma City he was one of the 'Stache Brothers. Nobody threatened to kill him when he was here.

And what's Freedom without the other 'Stache brother, Steven Adams? Steven Adams was drafted by the Thunder in 2013 and played here for seven seasons before being traded to New Orleans for a single season, eventually landing in Memphis. Do you know what neither of those towns have? A giant mural of Steven Adams painted on the side of a building downtown. We're not keeping that thing up forever, Adams. The clock is ticking.

That brings us to the Slim Reaper himself: Number 35, KD. Look, everybody says things they don't mean when they're angry. You said some things, we said some things, and we probably shouldn't have sent a mob over to spit on your restaurant. Durant's latest contract with the Nets was a four-year/$198 million dollar deal. Don't kid yourself, $200 million is good money anywhere, but do you know how well you can live in Oklahoma on a salary like that? He could buy the entire panhandle and turn it into his house. He could buy the Paycom center and change those green lights to whatever color her wanted. He could rent out the entire state fair for a night and enjoy Pizza on a Stick with his mom. Look, the guy doesn't need me to tell him how to spend his money. Point is, he could live like a king here, and the Thunder could use his help. Heck, bring Kyrie Irving -- there are no mask mandates here!

Those aren't the only players welcome to return. Serge Ibaka the Shot Blockah, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony are all welcome, too. Hell, we'll take Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins back as well. The Thunder needs help in a big way, and it's obvious who can help us -- the same guys that used to help us.

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