Five Thoughts 2-26-18 (Thunder 112, Magic 105)

1. For the last several years I’ve often chronicled taking my kids to the games. I’m at a point where my two oldest (boy 6 and girl 9) are pretty easy to manage start to finish for the entire evening. Not only are they Thunder veterans now, but they are old enough and (just) mature enough to make it to the end without issue. My youngest is TOO young (not quite 2) to even try it so I’m in a gap of sorts. One thing I’ve never done though is take both of my kids to the game at once without my wife present as well. Until tonight. But why stop there? We were actually all there for a very special guest of honor— my 6 year old niece. For her birthday we gave her a night out to the game. It’s not a coincidence I chose a Monday night against Orlando; things were a little more chill and exchanging my two tickets for four elsewhere wasn’t a big deal. So I loaded the three of them up and off we went.

2. They talk. They talk a lot. I mean, a lot. I made a special playlist for my niece for the car ride and they somehow managed to dance, sing, bop around in their seats, AND talk the entire time. The playlist was full of their favorites; lots of pop hits from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, etc. They know most of the lyrics. I know them all. The chatter didn’t stay in the car. They brought it along with them to Texadelphia for the pregame meal. My niece is a doll. Blonde, sweet, a little sassy, good sense of humor. She and my son are both 6. Both in kindergarten. They get along well and always have. Yet, they do antagonize each other fairly regularly. Sometimes my 9 year old is a good moderator. Other times she is an instigator. My son is almost always a contrarian in these situations. Tonight, he decided he wasn’t going to root for the Thunder. The girls were all in; all Thunder’ed Up. He has been all in this year as well, except tonight he refused to wear any of his Thunder gear and declared he was a Magic fan. He was actively inviting the barbs and jabs from the ladies. They obliged. He also declared he wasn’t hungry and had no interest in eating. He then proceeded to abuse a bowl of queso to an almost criminal level. They all got mini corn dogs. He took his and drenched each one in the cheese-goo. I mean, he made sure every square inch of that breaded dog was covered and then he popped them in his mouth, taking each one down in a single bite. The girls were more demure. And they wore a lot less of the queso than he did.

3. During intros the girls jumped up and down and clapped; my son booed. They then booed him. Overall, they were pretty good in the seats. But oh my God, the fidgeting. Sweet Mary, the fidgeting. The two 6 year olds treated the seats as if they were mini trampolines. And they are all so incredibly oblivious to their surroundings. When someone needs to get by them in the aisle it is as if they are all blind and deaf. Blank stares. C’mon guys, just MOVE! There was one momentary spat of relative silence— ice cream time. For about 7 minutes during halftime they each sat in their seats, fixated on the treats with a minimum of fidgeting and almost no commentary exchanged. If they offered bottomless soft-serve for $50 I might consider that for each of them. When I take just my 9 year old she is pretty tuned in to the game. My son is about 50/50 between watching the game and focusing on whatever else might be distracting him at the moment. Tonight? They might as well could have been on the roof of the arena. I’m not sure they were even totally aware a game was going on at all. There were some semi-good natured taunts between the girls and Captain Queso about his new favorite team, but most of the banter had very little to do with anything basketball related. In other words, it was as if my wife and sister in law were sitting next to me. All in all, no complaints from me. They were all in great moods and I was able to (mostly) watch the game.

4. There are a lot of amazing things about kids. But one of the most amazing might be that they have absolutely no idea how to walk through or navigate crowds. After the game, it was truly like herding cats getting them down the stairs, through the concourse, down the escalator, out the door, across the street, down the sidewalk, and into the car. This actually might be insulting to cats. Perhaps more like herding turtles with vertigo. They are incapable of walking in a straight line. And I’m pretty sure they would have walked directly into a construction pit had I not redirected them. I was quite relieved when we got to the car. I came with three kids. And I left with three kids. I consider that a success. I thought they might pass out on the way home. Oh, I was wrong. More music, more singing, more giggling, and lots more talking. My niece had a slew of post game questions for me. None of them had anything to do with the box score or the standings. She was baffled that they only release the streamers after the Thunder win. In her mind the idea of not dropping the streamers from the rafters for a reason as silly as not winning is a total waste of a good opportunity to drop streamers. Dropped her back at home around 10:10pm and my kids hit the sack around 10:30pm. This is a solid three-ish hours later than normal so I can’t wait to see them do the Zombie-walk in the morning. Hopefully it will be worth it to them. It was certainly worth every minute for me.

5. They don’t know it, but they witnessed a rarity tonight. The Thunder bench was awesome and Russ was the opposite. He seems to be in a post-break funk. Tonight was weird. He’s certainly had his fair share of bad games. Some REALLY bad games at that. But rarely, if ever, does he seem disengaged. He just wasn’t himself tonight at all. He looked lethargic. I was wondering if he might be a little hurt. Maybe it’s a good sign that Russ can be such a non (or even negative) factor and OKC still wins. PG had a solid night and the bench was fantastic. Four Thunder bench players in double figures? Yes, please. Thunder must start beating teams they should beat and they’ve done just that over their three most recent wins. None of those wins has been particularly impressive, but that doesn’t matter much to me at this point. I know what our upside is— I want to see them stop riding the rollercoaster. That said, roller coasters can be fun. And exhausting. And memorable. And worth the wait in line. It’s all about who is riding with you.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.

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Ed Kleese