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A Storm of Destruction, A Thunder of Goodwill
Silence screams ‘ghost town.’ Tumble weeds scatter, lifeless carcasses don’t, and demolished buildings are down for the count from a monstrous left hook from Mother Nature. Boy, did she hit Oklahoma City off guard.
A flock of firefighters, an assemblage of ambulance, and a calm 24-year old kid scrawny enough to slide under a door, yet tall enough to be mistaken for tying his shoe when he opens it. Your job is to guess which made the greatest impact to help recover from one of the worst disasters a community has seen since Joey Chestnut’s earth-quaking belch. In Oklahoma City, assume the unassuming.
Quick as lightning, thunder struck the only pro sports team within the borders of the long-handled pan we call Oklahoma. Two weeks ago, the pan seemed empty enough. The Oklahoma City Thunder, of whom the state would have stayed loyal to had their mascot been a Nazi, happened to be forced into the face of adversity, by the name of the Semi-Finals Against the Memphis Grizzlies, all within the matter of a brief jerk of a point guard’s knee. With all-star point guard Russell Westbrook out, he could do nothing but kick his team—with his good leg—off the cliff as grizzly food. Talk about feeling lost. Never has a team of Westbrook’s had to deal with him being sidelined. Not even since Russ’ was in junior high, a time when hangnails were treated like broken hands.
How were the Thunder ever going to adjust to such dark weather now cast upon each game going forward? Rumble with it.
Durant must have mistaken ‘rumble’ for ‘stumble.’ The series ended in five games rather quietly, a team that nobody, with the exception of Seattle, can find to hate now slumped on the couch of humiliation, before them a TV showing a game they could be playing in.
But things were only getting started.
What couldn’t help but be seen on the TV were flashes of breaking news: 51 Dead in Massive Oklahoma Tornado. A faint roar of thunder was dismissed by Oklahomans. Their civics’ sports squad was done for the year, so how could this noise have simply been thunder? After second thoughts, glances away from the TV and to shaking windows told them what they needed to know. When all shame from an endless stretch of flatland’s only peak of glory and unity through athletics seemed to die down, the energy seemed dead until people were. The sorrow brought from sports became a yard sale to the strip mall of a disaster this community now faced.
A thin V of Oklahoma gusts and too many rattled hearts later, Oklahoma City and its 17 miles of surroundings resembled Lego buildings after a three-year old temper tantrum. Distraught casted a cloud across the tarnished community with not a blade of sunlight.
But then there was hope, and puffy doors of darkness were ripped open. “It’s tough,” Durant reflected. “But the sun’s going to shine through.” And that it has.
Like the living trend of lens-less, thick-rimmed glasses, abnormality had been broken. For once, thunder had relieved fear among kids. With bedrooms and best friend teddy bears wisped away, hope stood in an unassuming stature only a couple decades old whose back pocket was stuffed with an entire bank wrapped in a leather wallet. The only thing a lot of kids his age have made so far is a ping pong in a red cup.
It was then that the first check was written for $1 million to the Red Cross for the relief efforts. Whose check was it? The one who sees he’s let his team down this postseason, yes, the one of whom all M-V-P chants go to, the one whose three-year scoring title streak was snapped, yet still is the fan-favorite in every gym north of Miami, the 6-foot-9 kid, 6’10” of it humility, Kevin Durant.
“I could’ve done a better job for my team to stay in the playoffs,” Durant reflects disappointedly. “Basketball to them (community) is a sporting event that brings everybody together, and it takes your mind off it for a few hours.”
Having done so much, he still sees the glass half-empty.
But it didn’t stop there.
The LA Dodgers’ Matt Kemp followed Durant with a walk of his own, pledging to donate $1,000 for every home run he hits from now until the All-Star break in mid-July. The NBA and Players’ Union have joined, combining to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other disaster relief efforts. Durant plans to continue to visit hospitals and families affected.
KD, take a look at the glass you thought was half-empty. It’s overflowing.