The Associated Press has determined Southern California will retain its 2004 national championship even though the NCAA declared Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush ineligible during that season.
“The 2004 poll stands,” AP sports editor Terry Taylor confirmed in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “The poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they’re allowed to be ranked and USC certainly played in 2004.”
The NCAA ruled the Trojans must vacate victories in which Bush played. As a result, former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said his Tigers should be proclaimed 2004 national champions.
“We never complained when they went by the process the last time, and they should go by the process this time,” said Tuberville, who is now at Texas Tech. “If they were ineligible, I think they should have a revote and let people vote on it and decide who they think was the best team that year. If everybody thinks it was Oklahoma, that’s fine. If everybody thinks it was Auburn, that’s fine.”
USC finished unbeaten in 2004 and destroyed Oklahoma 55-19 in the BCS Championship at the Orange Bowl. The Tigers went unbeaten and finished No. 2 in the country after defeating Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl.
I was an AP voter in 2004 and had Auburn No. 2 in my weekly poll (behind USC and ahead of Oklahoma) until Nov. 21, when I swapped OU and Auburn.
Taylor is right when he says the AP poll measures on-field performance. I saw OU, USC and Auburn play in-person in 2004, and the Trojans were by far the best team. Not even close.
Taylor said declaring a different champion in 2004 would be too difficult. “It would be impractical to revote,” Taylor said, according to the Times. “It’s been six years. Memories have faded and the poll board from that year is no longer intact.”
I remember USC’s massacre of OU quite clearly.
The Big 12 doesn’t have to die. It would just have to change.
If Oklahoma. Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado relocate to the Pacific 10 Conference, the Big 12 could still exist with a solid cast of members and some intriguing potential.
Here’s a suggestion for the new Big 12: Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, Baylor, Memphis, Louisville, TCU, UTEP, Houston, Rice and Tulsa.
This would have the makings of a terrific basketball conference and a solid football conference. Baseball, softball, tennis and track also would be well-represented.
You would replace the departure of three Texas schools with the arrival of four, keeping the Texas recruiting base alive. Tulsa would now represent Oklahoma. Travel would be reasonable. Only Louisville would be in a different time zone.
Just a thought. The Big 12 wouldn’t have to die, just change.
One year ago this week, Las Vegas High baseball phenom Bryce Harper was playing for Westmoore’s Red Dirt team, which plays in a state-wide wood-bat league.
On Monday, the 17-year-old Harper became the No. 1 pick in this year’s amateur draft. Harper skipped his last two years of high school, got his general equivalency degree (GED) and enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada rather than having to wait to become draft-eligible in 2011 as a high-school senior.
Harper became the first-ever junior college player to be drafted first and is expected to demand a contract with the Washington Nationals similar to the $15.1 million deal signed by pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who made his major-league debut with the Nationals on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh.
Harper appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated the week before coming to Oklahoma last spring. The magazine proclaimed him the LeBron James of baseball.
While Harper was in Oklahoma, he was lauded by teammates.
“He’s just a normal 16-year-old,” Westmoore first baseman Taylor Tipps said at the time. “He’s fun to be around.”
Tipps was Harper’s teammate three years ago on the Oklahoma Elite travel team. Harper resided at the Tipps’ house while in town last June.
“If you didn’t know any better, you’d have thought that kid has been with these guys their entire lives,” Westmoore coach Sean Brooks said of Harper. “He fits right in with our guys. He’s up on the rail with them, talking to the guys, picking them up. His skill level is above these guys, but it’s the same mentality, the same approach to the game. He fits right in with what we do.”
Tipps had warned teammates how good Harper was.
“People like to hear how good he is, but you don’t believe it until you see it,” Tipps said.
Westmoore third baseman/pitcher Mike Brewster was asked if there is an aspect of Harper’s game that needs work. Brewster smiled, shook his head and mumbled, “I don’t think so.”
Westmoore players hung out with Harper, ate lunch and watched movies. During one lunch, Harper signed autographs for kids at the local Chili’s.
“He’s pretty cool,” Brewster said.
Others recently have viewed Harper differently, however.
In April, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus said of the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Harper: “It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid. One scout called him among the worst amateur players he’s ever seen from a makeup standpoint, with top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents. ‘He’s just a bad, bad guy,’ said one front-office official. ‘He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.’ ”
Harper’s amateur career ended prematurely at this week’s Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. According to USA Today, Harper “nearly set off a bench-clearing brawl by spiking the opposing first baseman running to first, glared at the home-plate umpire on a called strike and
showed up the umpire by drawing a line in the dirt with his bat that prompted the ejection and an automatic two-game tournament suspension. He never played again, leaving his coach seething, fans angry and his teammates in tears.”
Still, Harper was too talented for the Nationals to ignore. “We all did things we weren’t proud of at 17,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.
To expedite his rise to the majors, the Nationals have said the left-handed hitting Harper will move from catcher to right field. When, or if, Harper will sign is unknown. His longtime adviser is uber-agent Scott Boras, who has had many of the most notable contract holdouts in history.
The Nationals have until Aug. 16 to sign Harper. If negotiations falter, one option is for Harper to return to school at Southern Nevada and be re-drafted next June. Harper batted .443 with a school-record 31 home runs and 98 RBI in 66 games this season.
Armed with his own high-profile experiences, former Oklahoma football great Brian Bosworth is in the midst of a project he hopes will help guide young players not so familiar with the spotlight.
“I’m trying to create an atmosphere where kids understand that a four-year stage in their life is an opportunity to turn that into a 40-year career,” Bosworth said Thursday from Malibu, Calif. “You’re not going to be a 40-year professional athlete. You might be a four-year professional athlete. You might be a four-game professional athlete. You might be a four-day guy. You might come in and get cut, but you’ve got to take advantage of that four-year opportunity to get an education.”
Bosworth said he is writing and producing the independent project and chose the production company of Sir Ridley Scott.
“I went with that company because I felt like they get it from a sports standpoint. The project has changed organically from my original plan to where it’s going to end up. I was going to compare Blue Chip athletes to kids who don’t get that kind of notoriety, kids more along the lines of ‘The Blind Side,’ kids who come out of nowhere. This guy who became an all-pro, where did he come from? On the other side, you have this blue-chip athlete, yet his flame isn’t blue. His flame is a flickering orange that’s almost out. Why doesn’t he have the motivation when he’s been given all of God’s gifts and everybody’s pulling for him?
“What I’m finding out more and more is today’s kids are so cocky when they come out of high school. You can’t teach them. You can’t coach them. They act like they already know it all. It takes me back to my time. I think I was kind of one of those guys, but I was also very humble and I was very scared. I had a big self-esteem problem. I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can make it here, man. This is Oklahoma. This is big-time. I don’t know if I am big-time yet. I’ve got to figure that out.’ I had to go through an inner journey to find out if I had big-time in me.
“There’s always a crossroad. You come to a fork in the road. I think what we’re going to end up doing is we’re going to take kids back to that fork in the road. There was a circumstance in your life that caused you to take a right or a left. We’ll look at the kids who took the wrong turns. Sometimes it’s because of a wrong choice they made. Sometimes they didn’t have a choice, the decision was made for them. There are a lot kids out there who don’t get that second chance. The more we talk to high school coaches, they agree. They say, ‘Don’t come in and get our seniors. They don’t need any more notoriety. Go to the guys who didn’t get the shot to go, who are great kids and are now sackers at the grocery store, or pumping gas, or don’t have a job, or have a life of crime.’ We can go impact those type of kids and change their lives.
“I’ve put more focus on teaching and mentoring kids about how to avoid the mistakes, especially the mistakes I made. I made many. I had a lot of great successes, but I made a lot of mistakes. When you add them all up, I think the teeter-totter is favored more toward my successes.”
Bosworth’s maniacal approach to football cut short what had been a brilliant career. “You put a hat (helmet) on and when you walk onto a field and you’re playing for a fraternity,” Bosworth said. “We hit each other, not because we’re told to but because we want to. Sometimes there are catastrophes that happen in our bodies. I’ve had 28 surgeries. I’ve had both my shoulders replaced. I’ve got three discs in my neck and four discs in my back. That’s because I played the game at a level that I wanted to play at. I wanted to play at a high, destructive level. I felt like if I didn’t hit somebody with everything I had inside of me, I wasn’t playing the game hard enough. I did that for me. It helped my team, but I did that for me.”
The NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago starts Wednesday and one of Oklahoma’s three early departures is missing from the invitation list.
Freshman point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin reportedly was not invited to participate in this key activity, which will be held at the Attack Athletics facility on the west side of Chicago. OU sophomore guard Willie Warren and freshman center Tiny Gallon did receive invitations, as did Oklahoma State guard James Anderson, Tulsa center Jerome Jordan and former local high school standouts in Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh (Edmond Santa Fe), Kentucky’s Daniel Orton (Bishop McGuinness) and Kansas’ Xavier Henry (Putnam City).
Thanks to the NCAA’s newly imposed early withdrawal deadline (which was May 8), this year’s invitation list consists of nothing but draft-eligible players with no possibility of a player withdrawing to return to college. Getting an invitation to Chicago does not guarantee a player will get drafted, but not getting an invite certainly doesn’t help a player’s cause.
The Chicago combine will consist of various drills, medical testing and interviews with NBA teams, but no games. Here is the invitation list:
Solomon Alabi, Florida State
Cole Aldrich, Kansas
Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
James Anderson, Oklahoma State
Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky
Trevor Booker, Clemson
Craig Brackins, Iowa State
Avery Bradley, Texas
Derrick Caracter, Texas El Paso
Sherron Collins, Kansas
DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Jordan Crawford, Xavier
Ed Davis, North Carolina
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Tiny Gallon, Oklahoma
Charles Garcia, Seattle
Paul George, Fresno State
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Manny Harris, Michigan
Gordon Hayward, Butler
Lazard Hayward, Marquette
Xavier Henry, Kansas
Darington Hobson, New Mexico
Damion James, Texas
Armon Johnson, Nevada
Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
Dominique Jones, South Florida
Jerome Jordan, Tulsa
Sylven Landesberg, Virginia
Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech
Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Daniel Orton, Kentucky
Artsiom Parakhouski, Radford
Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
Dexter Pittman, Texas
Quincy Pondexter, Washington
Andy Rautins, Syracuse
Stanley Robinson, Connecticut
Larry Sanders, Virginia Commonwealth
Jon Scheyer, Duke
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
Mikhail Torrance, Alabama
Evan Turner, Ohio State
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor
Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State
Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
John Wall, Kentucky
Willie Warren, Oklahoma
Terrico White, Mississippi
Hassan Whiteside, Marshall
Elliot Williams, Memphis
A transcript of former Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo’s interview with The Oklahoman on May 13:
Thoughts on the Thunder going 50-32 this season and advancing to the playoffs:
“I don’t think anybody saw this coming, except the (Thunder) players and the coaches. In my opinion, they’re certainly ahead of schedule. People believed how talented and young they were and that eventually they would become a good team. When they got (Serge) Ibaka and (Thabo) Sefolosha is what really jump-started the whole thing. Thabo in particular gave them a perimeter defender, which helped a lot. It also made the defensive matchups a lot better for Kevin (Durant) and Jeff (Green). The trades and acquisitions helped tremendously. The rest was just natural.”
Did you envision this much success coming this soon?
“I really believed they were going to be that good eventually. Would I have said were going to win 50 games in the third year? No. I think that was because of the players and the staff there this year doing an exceptional job.
“The feeling was there was going to be light at the end of the tunnel, but you also didn’t think you would struggle as much as we did the year before when we started out 2-14. You didn’t think it would be to that extreme. In some of the games you play well, and in some of the games you don’t. But there was just no reward whatsoever, so that’s when you’ve got to wonder. To me, that’s when all the hard work pays because in retrospect you didn’t expect the level of struggling early. You knew it wasn’t going to go well because you had road games against tough people. You’re like, ‘Uh-oh,’ but you didn’t expect it to be 2-14 and 1-12, nor do you expect it to turn the way it turned.
“Looking back, you could see where the numbers were starting to get pretty good at the end of last year (2008-09). You could say, ‘Looks like we’re starting to turn the corner. Looks like we’re starting to become a better team.’ But, boy, few people would have thought it would have turned so dramatically and then take the current NBA champs to the wall. It was just so unfortunate we got off to the start we did because we could tell the city wanted to win so badly. Obviously, the product on the floor is one they’re really proud of now.”
On Kevin Durant, a first-team All-NBA and All-Star selection who become the youngest scoring champion in NBA history:
“You didn’t have to watch Kevin for more than five seconds to say, ‘This kid is going to end up being one of the best players in the league.’ To be first-team All-NBA, you have to be on a successful team. I didn’t think there was a question Kevin would get there. The question was how quick could the team get good enough for him to get that personal recognition.”
How can the Thunder get better?
“Scottie (Brooks) and the coaches have a very good handle on what they need to take the next step. They certainly would like to shoot the 3 better and they could be better in their defensive rebounding. Offensive rebounding, they were pretty good. They also could take a little better care of the all, but you’re really nitpicking there. They did everything else so well.
“They were a very solid team. It wasn’t like they did it with mirrors. It’s not just the 50 wins, it’s how close they were in so many other games. It wasn’t like there were peaks and valleys. They were pretty consistent. These guys have settled into their roles, and they’re going to continue to get even better.
“Scottie has put them in positions where they can be successful. Having a good work ethic has always been the trademark of these guys from Day 1. Not only are they getting talented players, they’re also really good people. The coaches work hard, too. It’s a very, very positive situation there. They’ve got young talent that doesn’t think they have all the answers and they’re not afraid to work. Four starters played all 82 games. That’s a trademark of having a young team, but you’re also very fortunate. That’s also great for your continuity. This was a horrible year for injuries for a lot of teams.
“The league is fragile. Nobody talks about it, but every year only one team wins and the other 29 are asking, ‘What do we need to do to get better?’ There’s still a ton of work to do, but in terms of where they were at and where they are now, it’s hard to imagine anyone doing better than the Thunder. It just goes back to the people.”
The Thunder’s roster now compared to when he was coach:
“It wasn’t like our (2007-09) teams were divided. It wasn’t like they didn’t get along. There were good people on the team, but the team wasn’t nearly as talented then as it is now. They’ve done even a better job of getting good people. When they add a piece, they’re very mindful of what type of person they’re bringing into the mix.
“Kevin and Jeff were in a very difficult situation that first year because they were such high draft picks and they were going to be the face of the franchise going forward. There was all the normal rookie-veteran stuff on that team, but the way Kevin and Jeff handled themselves really made it work. That could have been a very difficult situation with a lot of resentment, but it wasn’t because of the type of guys they’ve got. The feeling from the beginning was all it was going to take was time because the pieces were so good. The work ethic, that’s the thing that gets lost in the shuffle.”
The importance of having a good practice facility when the team arrived:
“That’s one of the better practice facilities (14701 N. Lincoln Blvd.) in the league right now. It’s not in the top 10, but it’s one of the better ones. That to me was a reflection of the commitment they had. It was going to take a lot of hard work. Everything in that organization has gotten better since Day 1 — the team, the practice facility, the (Ford Center) arena.
“They could have said, ‘Let’s just use a gym that we don’t have access to 24/7, that doesn’t have extra baskets, that doesn’t have the weight room right there for you. But they said, ‘No, no, no. This stuff is important. We need this today.’ There are a lot of owners who wouldn’t have done it that way when they have a brand new facility on the way (due for completion late this year).
“When I think of Oklahoma City, I think of that practice facility. That’s where we spent most of our time. That’s the side of it people don’t see — the mornings and the nights. A lot of those guys come back at night, but you can’t do that if you don’t have a dedicated facility or a facility the players don’t like going to. That facility was made for the players. It was a strong commitment. That new place (due for completion at the end of the year) is going to be unbelievable, one of the top two or three in the league, I’m sure. That practice facility made a significant, significant difference.
“I think it’s a corporate mindset with that team. They won’t forget where they came from and they’re going to be very successful.”
On Scott Brooks being named NBA coach of the year:
“I thought it was an unbelievably tough year to pick just one, and yet at the same time it was clearly a no-brainer. Scottie was the guy. I don’t think you could do a much better job that Scott did this year. It’s not an accident those guys got better, and are continuing to improve.”
The Thunder’s home crowd:
“It was very obvious in the playoffs and I saw it during the regular season, too. I remember very few games that were televised where the crowd didn’t come across great. Every time I’ve seen a game televised out of the Ford Center, it’s been very, very positive. The home court is an advantage, even in the NBA. Will it win you a game? No, but it makes it more of a factor. There are some teams in the NBA where it really doesn’t matter if they’re home or away. If you’re going to be successful in the playoffs, you’re going to have to win on the road anyhow. But when you have a home court that is an advantage, you want to make sure that potential Game 7 is on your building. Game 7 in the finals is significant.”
What’s harder, getting into the playoffs or staying there?
“When you’re on the outside looking in, particularly when you have a long way to go, you wonder about so many things. If you’re a Western (Conference) team compared to an Eastern team, it’s absolutely night and day. For the Thunder to come from where they were was twice as hard. People don’t understand the difference between playing 52 games in the West and 30 in the East, and playing 52 in the East and only 30 in the West. It’s apples and oranges.
“Then they legitimized it even more with how well they played against a team I still feel is the best in the league (the Lakers). The Thunder really is that good. They were so good people stopped saying, ‘How in hell did they do this?’ Because they did it over the course of the year and made it look like they deserved to be there, it almost took a little something away from it. You have to step back and say to yourself, ‘Do you understand what their record was the past couple of years? Do you understand they just made the playoffs, they almost beat the Lakers, they have a first-team All-NBA player, the coach of the year?’ I mean, come on. It almost like now it’s just accepted how good they are.
“By them doing it so confidently and making it look like they belonged, to me it almost detracted from what they did a little bit. Believe me, there are a lot of other franchises out there scratching their heads and saying, ‘How in hell did they do that? We can’t even get in the playoffs.’
“Is sustaining it going to be easy? No, it’s not. They need to continue with the same attitude they have right now, and I’m sure they will. Maybe there was a time early in the year in November or December when they snuck up on some people, but that was over very early. I’m sure the (Thunder) coaches were screaming to their players from Day 1, ‘Hey, guys. We’re a lot better.’ But any player who might have doubted that, that was out the door by Christmas. That was over.
“These guys are a year older and that will be a big plus. Scottie knows what every player needs to do to get better. They didn’t do it by shortcuts. They didn’t do it by a miracle free-agent acquisition. They did it building with young guys, building with character people and I think excellent coaching and player development.”
Why is the Thunder’s success rewarding to you?
“This feels good for me, more so because I felt so good for that staff and players that I worked alongside. You can’t spend that much time with people and not feel good for them.”
Thoughts on Russell Westbrook, whom Carlesimo did not consider to be a true point guard:
“Then again, I don’t know what (position) Dwyane Wade plays, either. I believe in him (Westbrook) as a talent. Russell reminded me of (Boston’s) Rajon Rondo from Day 1. The thing that stuck out with me was the anticipation and the steals. But the ability they have that no other point guards have is the rebounding. They distort a game with their rebounding. Russell totally disrupts you with his quickness, his steals, his anticipation and then his rebounding is off the charts.
“To me, Russell is always going to be a wild card, in a good sense. A wild card because of all the positions he could play. There’s going to be games and series where it’s an enormous advantage. Russell might not have been a classic point guard, but he was too damn good not to draft. (General manager) Sam Presti felt he was too special to not draft, and he was right. ‘Don’t worry about what position he is. Let’s just get him and play him because he’s going to be really good.’ A lot of people were saying ‘Yeah, but’ about Russell being a true point guard. A lot of wins from now, people are going to still be saying, ‘Yeah, but.’ ”
- John Rohde
The most predictable way to win a coach-of-the-year award is to overachieve, to make an underwhelming team become overwhelming in its own way. This is why the Thunder’s Scott Brooks was named NBA coach of the year on Wednesday, and it’s also why he clearly deserved the award.
Composure is a terrific quality in coaching, and Brooks repeatedly has shown he has it. If a coach doesn’t freak out, chances are neither will his team. There is an undeniable sense of calm with Brooks, a patience that shows in the Thunder’s steady improvement.
I’ve often wondered what Brooks is like inside the locker room or during closed practice sessions. Playoff television coverage miked Brooks inside the locker room and during timeouts in Games 1 and 2 against the Lakers, and evidently he’s the same person reporters see during pre-game and post-game chats. His demeanor is the same in any circumstance, whether he’s handing out praise or demanding better screens and tougher defense against the Lakers. I have yet to see any proof of Brooks losing his composure, which is no easy feat when dealing with such a young team.
Just 17 months ago, Brooks was an assistant under coach P.J. Carlesimo who inherited a 1-12 team the night of Nov. 21 after a 105-80 loss to New Orleans inside the Ford Center. Brooks went 22-47 last year and 50-32 this year.
No team threatened the Thunder’s 27-win improvement from a year ago. Brooks had to be the choice as top coach. The closest was 40-42 Memphis with a 16-game improvement under coach Lionel Hollins. Milwaukee went 46-36 and had a 12-game improvement under coach Scott Skiles.
Brooks won half-a-hundred games while leading a team to the playoffs at least one season ahead of schedule, perhaps two or three.
Brooks is winless in the playoffs so far, which is precisely where most folks figured the Thunder would to this point against the world champion Lakers. Brooks so far has stuck with many of the same substitution patterns and player combinations he used in the regular season. Some believe coaches must change their approach in the postseason. Brooks apparently feels it’s best to stick with what got you to the playoffs, and no one knows what works best for the Thunder more than Brooks.
Those who have questioned Brooks’ method wouldn’t have nearly as much ammunition if his players had performed to their capabilities the first two games. Imagine if Jeff Green wasn’t a combined 6 for 23, Thabo Sefolosha wasn’t 2 for 11 and James Harden wasn’t 0 for 5 and playing like a rookie.
Kevin Durant, who is a combined 19 for 50 from the field with 12 turnovers, got far better looks in Game 1 than in Game 2. He seemed to be in a much better space, literally and figuratively, and that’s because of adjustments from Brooks.
What the Thunder must do is shoot better and cherish each possession much more than it did in Games 1 and 2. Brooks no doubt has preached this to his team, and you can bet he was calm when he did it.
Here is how the Thunder went from being in Seattle to being in the playoffs and playing the world champion Los Angeles Lakers:
July 18, 2006: An eight-member group of Oklahoma City-based businessmen led by Clay Bennett join to form the Professional Basketball Club, LLC and agree to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics and WNBA’s Storm for $350 million.
Sept. 21, 2007: Sonics owners file an arbitration demand seeking a ruling by arbitrators that would prevent Seattle officials from forcing the Sonics to remain at KeyArena through 2010. A judge later denies the request.
Nov. 2, 2007: Sonics owners file a relocation application with the NBA seeking to move the franchise to Oklahoma City.
Feb. 16, 2008: NBA Commissioner David Stern says the Sonics leaving Seattle is “an inevitability.” Stern also says Seattle turned down an offer of about $30 million to buy the team out of its lease with KeyArena.
March 4, 2008: Oklahoma City voters approve a 1-cent sales tax to pay for about $121 million in improvements to the Ford Center and an NBA practice facility.
March 14, 2008: Oklahoma City officials sign a letter of intent with the Sonics ownership group, outlining preliminary terms of a 15-year lease agreement for the use of the Ford Center.
June 26, 2008: Selects guard Russell Westbrook (fourth overall) and center Serge Ibaka (24th overall) in the NBA Draft; acquires forward D.J. White (29th overall) in exchange for Walter Sharpe (32nd overall) and Trent Plaisted (46th overall).
July 2, 2008: Bennett announces the franchise will relocate to Oklahoma City.
Aug. 11, 2008: Acquires guard Kyle Weaver from Charlotte in exchange for a future second-round pick.
Aug. 29, 2008: Three moving vans arrive in Oklahoma City from Seattle.
Sept. 3, 2008: Formal announcement at Leadership Square that the Seattle SuperSonics will be called the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Oct. 29, 2008: Thunder plays its first-ever regular-season game and loses 98-87 to Milwaukee at home.
Nov. 21, 2008: After opening the season with a 1-12 record, Thunder replaces coach P.J. Carlesimo with assistant Scott Brooks on an interim basis.
Dec. 30, 2008: Signs free agent center Nenad Krstic.
Dec. 31, 2008: Off to a 3-29 start and riding a five-game losing streak, the Thunder beats Golden State 107-100 inside the Ford Center and goes 20-30 the remainder of the season. Earlier that same day, Thunder announces the hiring of defensive guru Ron Adams as an assistant coach.
Feb. 13, 2009: Durant scores a record 46 points for the sophomores in the Rookie Challenge game during All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. Durant made 17 of 25 shots, had six dunks and four 3-pointers.
Feb. 14, 2009: Durant wins the inaugural H-O-R-S-E competition as part of All-Star Weekend.
Feb. 17, 2009: Thunder trades forwards Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith and the draft rights to center DeVon Hardin to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for center Tyson Chandler. Later that same night, the Thunder’s new mascot, Rumble, makes his debut inside the Ford Center during a game against the Hornets.
Feb. 18, 2009: Chandler trade is rescinded when Thunder officials are not satisfied with the results of a physical examination of Chandler’s toe.
Feb. 19, 2009: Acquires guard Thabo Sefolosha and cash considerations in exchange for the least favorable of Thunder’s 2009 first-round draft picks.
March 2, 2009: Entering the game with a 14-45 record, the Thunder stuns the Dallas Mavericks 96-87 inside the Ford Center without Durant (injured ankle) and Jeff Green (injured lower back). It comes in the middle of a three-game winning streak, the Thunder’s longest of the season.
April 15, 2009: Brooks agrees to a multi-year contract and formally becomes head coach.
June 25, 2009: In the 2009 NBA Draft, Thunder selects guard James Harden (third overall), also acquires center Byron Mullens (24th overall) in exchange for guard Rodrique Beaubois (25th overall) and a 2010 second-round pick.
July 27, 2009: Acquires center Etan Thomas from Minnesota in exchange for Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins.
Aug. 1, 2009: Signs free agent guard Kevin Ollie.
Aug. 14, 2009: Hires former Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks as an assistant coach.
April-October 2009: Construction for the first phase of the Ford Center’s $100-million renovation.
Nov. 8, 2009: Snaps three-game losing streak by dominating 2009 world championship finalist Orlando with a 102-74 victory inside the Ford Center.
Nov. 24, 2009: Posts a 104-94 victory at Utah, one of the toughest places to win in the NBA, and the Jazz was at full strength with Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Millsap all playing 32-plus minutes.
Dec. 22, 2009: Acquires point guard Eric Maynor and assumes the contract of Matt Harpring (who did not report) from the Utah Jazz in exchange for the draft rights to Peter Fehse.
Dec. 23, 2009: A 117-113 victory at Phoenix starts a five-game winning streak while ending a skid of five losses in a six-game span. Led by Durant’s 38 points, the Thunder evened its season record at 14-14 and would never dip below .500 again.
Jan. 18, 2010: Highlighted by Green’s driving dunk from 35 feet away with 12.2 seconds left in the game, the Thunder defeats the surging Hawks during an afternoon game on Martin Luther King Day in the reverend’s former hometown of Atlanta.
Feb. 12, 2010: Westbrook scores 40 points for the sophomores in the Rookie Challenge during All-Star weekend in Arlington, Texas.
Feb. 13, 2010: Durant repeats as the H-O-R-S-E champion.
Feb. 14, 2010: Durant plays in his first All-Star Game, finishing with 15 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Jan. 29-Feb. 21, 2010: A nine-game winning streak, which included five road victories in a six-game span. Brooks said he considers an 89-77 victory at Portland on Feb. 9 as perhaps the biggest win of the season. The Thunder savored that victory for an entire week because it was the last contest before the All-Star break.
Dec. 22, 2009-Feb. 24, 2010: Durant scores at least 25 points in 29 consecutive games. In the last 35 years, only Michael Jordan had a longer NBA streak, with 40 straight in 1986-87.
March 26, 2010: Thunder ends its 12-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Lakers with a convincing 91-75 victory inside the Ford Center, which saw the Thunder lead 80-47 at the end of the third quarter.
March 31, 2010: The Boston Celtics shoot 59.5 percent from the field, including 85.0 percent in the second quarter, and still lose 109-104 at home. The Thunder gets 37 points from Durant, 21 points and 10 assists from Westbrook and clutch back-to-back 3-pointers from Green late in the game.
April 3, 2010: The Thunder franchise wins at Dallas for the first time since Dec. 9, 2004. With the 121-116 victory, the Thunder clinches a playoff spot and is greeted at the airport at 12:15 a.m. by a vocal gathering of 100 fans outside a private hangar.
According to a newspaper report out of South Carolina, Oklahoma basketball coach Jeff Capel interviewed for the vacant Clemson job Friday. Instead, Capel actually was in Norman, hosting an OU recruit.
Last year around this time, Capel was said to be interviewing for the Arizona job. This came as a shock to Capel, who said he was taking a shower when the alleged meeting took place.
The Wake Forest job is now available, but a deal is said to be in the works with Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik, who is a longtime friend of Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman.
Given the current state of the Sooners’ program, Capel bolting to Clemson would be akin to getting out of Dodge before sunrise. It would be a cowardly move. Not so for Wake Forest.
OU holds a slight advantage over Wake in basketball tradition. The Demon Deacons have brought us Tim Duncan, Josh Howard, Chris Paul and Billy Packer, but they have lost four regional finals and advanced to only one Final Four (1962).
Wake Forest’s mailing address might have been enough to lure Capel, a Fayetteville, N.C., native and Duke product who never has hidden his affection for his home state, where his father still resides as a Charlotte Bobcats assistant coach.
A chance to go home can be an overwhelming force. It’s why Roy Williams left Kansas for North Carolina, why Bob Huggins left Kansas State for West Virginia after just one season, why Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford would crawl on his hands and knees to get from Stillwater to Lexington, Ky.
But with the Bzdelik deal pending, it appears we’ll never know how strong the gravitational pull back to Carolina could have been for Capel.
What transpired Monday represented a big step back to golf for Tiger Woods. It was his first public display of golf since early last November. It also was his first actual news conference since his life crumbled the day after Thanksgiving.
A bigger step comes when be tees off Thursday in the opening round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. How many more steps Woods must take to get his personal life in order is none of our business.
Woods fielded questions for 34 minutes at the Augusta National media center on Monday afternoon. This was not a speech. This was not an awkward, five-minute, scratch-the-surface, one-on-one interview staged on the terrace at Isleworth Country Club. There were 45 questions and Woods dodged roughly a half-dozen. Give the man credit. That’s far less tapdancing than he’s done this year.
It was easily Woods’ most genuine moment since his fall from grace. He smiled. He was contrite. He didn’t cry or get choked up. He seemed a little more relaxed with each answer. Woods said he was more nervous out on the course Monday than he was in the interview room, and I believe him. Woods can easily detach himself from other people in the same room. He can not detach himself from being the world’s greatest golfer, and right now he’s not sure how well he’ll play.
Woods will not be with his family this week. Wife, Elin, and their two children did not make the trip to Augusta. Woods said his business inner-circle will remain the same. Some wonder if this is wise given what transpired, that a clean slate might be the smarter move. To me, Woods keeping his same support group shows he has accepted responsibility for what happened. He is pointing a finger at himself and no one else, that he is to blame.
Red-eyed and sweating from a practice session in 88-degree weather, Woods seemed softer, less jagged around the edges. The man who wears power red on Sundays was wearing a light-toned shirt with a pink stripe on Monday. It seemed like a gentler Woods, though this guy never will be considered as cuddly.
The longer the news conference lasted, the more golf questions were asked. Woods will continue to sidetep questions he considers to be too personal. The more quickly the line of questioning centers on golf, the better it is for everyone concerned.
Someday, Woods will be able to stop tapdancing around questions and get back to why we all noticed him in the first place — golf. Monday was a big step in that direction.